gasworld’s third African conference, and eleventh in total, got underway at the Indaba Hotel and Conference Centre this morning just after 9am (local time) in Johannesburg.

Delegates were thoroughly informed with interesting and varied presentations regarding Bulk Liquid Supply – but up first were two presentations about General Industry Trends.

John Raquet took to the stage first to welcome everyone to gasworld’s African Conference. He said, “Morning and welcome to everyone here. This is our second time in Johannesburg.”

“Some of you may know that I used to work here in South Africa and for me, it feels like I have come home.”

“The Commonwealth Games is known as the friendly games and I see our conferences, held here, as our friendly conferences.”

Mr Raquet then took the time to introduce the various members of the gasworld team in attendance and then gave some details about the audience here at the conference.

His presentation stated that delegates from Gas Companies made up 40% of the audience, 43% were from Equipment Manufacturers, 6% were Consumers, and 11% fell into the Other category. And an impressive 53% were from Africa.

Raquet concluded by stating that “our conferences provide a forum of knowledge and the opportunity to network.”

He then introduced the first presentation of the conference, titled ‘Future Investment and the Supply Chain’, by Peter Cromberge – from Mergermarket.

He began by stating “Today I hope to provide you with a brief overview of the market and (emerging) trends.”

Mr Cromberge then showed a number of slides detailing financial statistics regarding M&A activity in the continent. Most notably, he highlighted a deal that had been struck between a Chinese based company and one from Mozambique for $4.2bn – which he described as a “mega deal”.

“A downward trend in M&A has been experienced over a number of years lately. But it is likely this trend will reverse thanks to the China/Mozambique mega deal,” said Cromberge.

He also highlighted the deal could have a knock-on affect for the continent with other companies also looking to invest in the region.

The Chairman of the first session then introduced gasworld’s Marcus Jakt – who started his presentation on ‘The Industrial Gas Sector in Africa – A Regional Breakdown’.

Jakt began with highlighting what his role is at gasworld before stating that the African Industrial Gas sector is valued at $1.5bn in 2012 – with the South Africa region accounting for 43% of this total.

“Growth (for Africa) is predicted between 5% (low figure) and 8.1% (high figure) between the years of 2012 and 2020. (We feel there is) a good time ahead,” stated Jakt.

He then provided a region by region breakdown of worth and predictions for the future.

He claimed that North Africa, in 2012, was worth $398m; Western Africa was worth $368m; East Africa was worth $93m; and South Africa was worth $652m. Jakt also made predictions for the level of growth figures between the years of 2012 and 2020 before making his conclusion.

He highlighted that it would be sensible to move away from packaged gas supply where possible.

Following a break for coffee, delegates and speakers returned with added vim and vigour for the second session of the day – regarding Bulk Liquid Supply.

Chaired by Global Gases’, who sponsored the previous day’s Pre Conference Cocktail Event, Senior Vice President Phil Kornbluth – the session got underway when Graham Hunter, from Cryogas Express, took to the stage and began with his presentation on Bulk Liquid Distribution.

Hunter gave a brief history of Cryogas Express and highlighted some of the transport delivery issues experienced in Africa – something the audience seemed to relate to.

He said, “Tanzania is a challenge, my word, those bus drivers – they don’t care, will keep driving towards you and keep going. All you can do is dive as quickly as you can off the road and out of their way as they won’t stop.”

“They are the worst in Africa!”

“We would not recommend travelling at night either in Africa – which is another issue you face with transporting goods by road.”

Hunter then described the methods Cryogas Express goes to, to ensure their drivers are rewarded for hard work and commitment to getting the company’s product to the customer on time.

Acknowledging some of the roads in African countries can be challenging for the delivery driver, Hunter said that all trucks have as much technology installed in them to assist the driver in making the delivery on time – including safety systems.

He concluded his presentation by saying that “what is key here is that safety is the foremost product of bulk liquid distribution.”

Next to the stage was VRV’s Michael Blondin who commended Hunter on his presentation and shared his passion for the installment and daily usage of safety systems in trucks making deliveries.

“There are three objectives for local gas companies in South Africa,” Blondin proclaimed, adding, “the first is the need to comply to the South African Road Traffic Regulations. Secondly is the optimisation of safety and lastly is the optimisation of the trailer payload.”

“The Bridge Rule of the Road Traffic Act protects bridges by ensuring the weight of the payload is spread across the trailer in an even way over all of the vehicle’s axles.”

Blondin then showed the importance of ensuring the load’s centre of gravity is kept central and under control to avoid the risk of tankers overturning.

He concluded by saying, “All industrial gas companies are affected by the risk of rollovers and poor equipment design is usually the cause.”

“To reduce accidents and deliver on safety goals, it is essential that industrial gas companies; ensure training as driver behavior is the main cause of incidents; select routes less prone to accidents; and invest in equipment designed to improve vehicle stability.”

The final speaker of the first morning session was Pierre Fiat, General Manager of Air Flow, who gave his presentation on Sea Freight Transport of Industrial Gases: Safety and Regulation Rules.

Fiat began by showing pictorial evidence of what can go wrong in the sea transportation sector of our industry.

In it he said, “If you handle cryogenic gases the name of the gas (you are transporting) is on the plate attached to the container.”

“One thing that is very important is for the name, address and emergency contact details of someone from your company to also be attached to the container.”

“A container (used to transport product) has to be checked every 30 months. The frame has to be checked for safety, as does the release valves and holding time (of the product inside the container).”

“After 28 months the container can not be shipped with dangerous gases,” adding later that, “ventilated containers are a way of controlling the rise in temperature experiences inside the container when it is being shipped.”

He concluded by talking about best practice.

The morning session concluded and delegates exited the auditorium after they watched a brief video from the lunchtime sponsors Bhuruka Gases.