If the potential of the Middle East market was ever in doubt, esteemed industrial gas professionals from across the globe have underlined its importance as they gathered here in Dubai for the gasworld conference.
More than 220 delegates have travelled to the event, a record attendance for a gasworld conference.
Key decision makers from the industry have traversed the globe, ensuring a diverse audience for this groundbreaking event. Delegates from as far as the US, Western Europe and China have flown into the UAE for the event, while ‘local’ participation includes major players from the gas industries of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, Turkey, Iran and the UAE itself.
Respected guest speaker Philippe Dauba-Pantanacce, Senior Economist for Standard Chartered Bank, Dubai, officially began proceedings with the first presentation of the day and described the challenging position that the global economy finds itself in.
He opened, “Today it is probably an understatement to say that we are at a turning point, either we really manage to climb the cliff or we fall.”
“There are many challenges ahead and headwinds for the whole world, but the challenges and the headwinds are very different if you sit in the established world and in the West or in the emerging world. But it looks like if the West doesn’t manage to get its act together, it will be difficult for the emerging markets to develop.”
Moving toward the high regard – and optimistic view – that the Middle East is held in, Dauba-Pantanacce elucidated, “Right now, at least this year and next year, we could put MENA into two categories, the conflict countries and the non-conflict countries. For oil exporters here, especially in the GCC, 2012 will be a very good year and 2011 has already been a very good year.”
“Oil prices have been incredibly resilient. Even in the onset of the worst global crisis, oil prices have always been hovering around $100 per barrel. What is very important is not only the price, it is also the growth in the output. Higher oil prices and higher oil output means that GDP growth will be very good in 2011.”
“The second element that underpins a very strong outlook for the GCC countries and oil exporting countries is that the government tried to react to events by stepping up their fiscal spending.”
“What’s for sure,” he added, “is that what started years ago, five or six years ago, is a process that has accelerated drastically since the 2008 crisis and is accelerating even more now - the historical shift of power from the West to the East. It is in play now on so many levels. Many elements point to that transition.”
“I guess that when policy making works, it really works. What we’re seeing in Europe, however, is that any mistakes come at a very high cost.”
Fellow guest speaker Gerry McElney of Gas Advies followed, with an insightful presentation that explored the investment climate rather than the financial or economic picture.
Explaining the wealth of opportunities in the region, McElney said, “The continued high price of oils and gas has allowed governments to invest substantially in new technologies and sectors, you can see the new technology parks in the region.”
“The tourist industry has also been growing substantially, which has actually benefited too from the high oil and gas prices. This high price will continue to enable ongoing high growth in the area.”
“Compared to Europe, we see an awful lot of opportunities where the debt or credit facility is concerned. As a region we feel that this area stands out as an opportunity for investors.”
Gerry McElney, Gas Advies
“Recent turmoil that has been going on in Europe has made credit fault swaps in this region incredibly attractive compared to Portugal, Spain and Italy. Debt is incredibly easy to get here in the Middle East.”
“Compared to Europe, we see an awful lot of opportunities where the debt or credit facility is concerned…As a region we feel that this area really stands out as an opportunity for investors.”
Adding considerable industrial gas expertise to the morning’s session was Spiritus Consulting’s John Raquet, who provided the latest updates and projections for the Middle East gases business and was clearly in buoyant mood about the opportunities ahead.
He opened, “What we understand [about the Middle East] and have monitored over the past decade is that this region is a region that has been dominated by independent producers and distributors.”
“Major players have had a relatively small involvement so far – but that is changing. Interestingly enough, the onsite’s business is actually on par with the world in terms of structure, and we actually believe that this is going to grow, because the major players will focus on the big tonnage projects.”
In summary, Raquet concluded, “The region has a lot of natural gas and oil, natural and low-cost feedstocks. There’s greater investment in downstream, there’s going to be continuing investment in glass, pharmaceuticals and other sectors – and that’s why I’m optimistic that this will be a region that will provide a vibrant industrial gas market in the future.”
‘Local’ participant Mahmut Ozbiyik, President of Turkey-based cryogenic equipment company ISISAN, then took to the stage to discuss Bulk LNG Applications – a significant topic considering the Middle East’s position in the global LNG market, and Qatar in particular.
Effusive about the fillip in demand for LNG and the swelling number of LNG vessels crossing the world’s oceans, Ozbiyik said, “In the 1980s there were just a few major projects around the world, the major one being in Japan.”
“Now in 2010 this has enormously increased, there are more than 200 LNG vessels in the oceans at the moment – almost too many! There is growing potential for the LNG business.”
Following a lunch break sponsored by the ROC-Praxair joint venture, Session 2 will get underway and explore the Gas Supply Options in the Middle East, including presentations from Daniel Gambet, Iraj Ghorbani and Nicolas Viard.
Follow the event online
If the Middle East interests your company but you can’t be there to take in the Arabian sunsets and the exclusive insights, follow the latest news and updates from the conference online here, via the brand new gasworld website.
The event is now officially underway (6th & 7th December) with opening presentations from Standard Chartered Bank’s Philippe Dauba-Pantanacce, Advies’ Gerry McElney, and Spiritus Consulting’s John Raquet.
Breaking news, views and analysis will unfold live and exclusively at www.gasworld.com.