History has been made following the start of the first gasworld conference in South East Asia – with an estimated crowd of more than 200 respected industrial gas professionals in the audience.

The stunning Orchard Hotel, in Singapore, plays host to the ninth gasworld conference – which began in December 2007 and has since continued to be the pioneering platform for knowledge exchange for people working in the industrial gas sector.

At 10am the conference was officially opened with a welcome and introduction from Director of gasworld – Martin Durham.

In his speech, Durham said, “Hello and welcome to gasworld’s South East Asia Industrial Gas Conference 2012. We’re very excited to be here today and to host our very first event in South East Asia.”

“We are very excited to be venturing into a brand new region for gasworld conferences; it means we have a blank canvas with which to work – analysing the South East Asian market, looking at opportunities for our business, possible threats, things to be mindful of, areas of growth, areas for concern – all kinds of topics to help us grow our businesses and be the best we can be.”

After Durham finished his speech, the first presentation of the historic South East Asia conference was delivered by Sumana Rajarethnam, from The Economist, who spoke about the regional and global forecasts.

In his presentation, titled less gloom - but no boom, Rajarethnam said, “The Euro Zone recession is proving hard to avoid. The risks to the global recovery are titanic sized issues in this area.”

“It’s a twin problem: solvency and competitiveness. Even if debts are written off, can the periphery grow within the European Union?”

“The U.S. needs to create 300,000 to 400,000 jobs every month to get back to the trend the country had just before the recession of 2008.”

“But you now need some good news. This news can be found in Asia. It is looking resilient and robust. The banks are healthy and there is no wage stress.”

“The saying that Rome wasn’t built in a day is true – but China could build Rome in two days, Spain in a year and Europe in 15 years.”

Gasworld then revealed the exclusive video interview with The Linde Group’s Sanjiv Lamba who addressed a number of important issues for the Asia market.

An article regarding Lamba’s video presentation will appear on the gasworld website shortly.

Next to the stage was Ravin Mirchandani, from Cryolor Asia Pacific, who gave members an insight in Securing Success in a Developing Economy.

Mirchandani stated, “I have found people getting off a plane and saying ‘I like it here – I will invest’ – but that is not enough as you may not be able to do business in that area just because you like it.”

“You need to analyse the competitive environment – (with regards of) how are the customers getting serviced and look at the existing pricing (for example).”

“Finally, you will need to determine what value you can bring to your target customers. Is it cost or dependability?”

“We (Cryolor) chose India for many reasons. It was a good fit for us. We looked at China, Indonesia and Vietnam.”

“But the most significant challenge in a developing economy is finding the right staff.”

“(However) a company is like a living organism and you have to invest a lot of time, money and love in it.”   

Closing the morning session, and speaking about the ASEAN market’s regional forecast, Spiritus Group’s John Raquet said, “We (the industrial gases) have never gone through a recession. Profits may have slowed in the past but the 2009 recession hit us all very hard.”

“Thankfully we have recovered. In 2009 there was a 10% decline but this was followed by rapid recovery. The industry reached 74 billion in 2011 – excluding equipment sales, wholesale and non gas businesses.”

“And Spiritus forecasts predict a 7% to 7.5% in our five year forecast. The SEA gases market is valued at $4.3b. The region is all developed and a large portion (of companies) have on site supply schemes.”

“Spiritus forecasts from 2011 to 2016 there will be a 9% to 10% growth per annum.”

“There are some shortages of some gases but there is demand significantly for CO2 in the beverages market with LPG another fast growing market.”

Delegates have now begun lunch, which has kindly been sponsored by Sing Swee Bee.

Raquet then re-starts the afternoon session of the day and is followed by Jim Nicholson, Christophe Chalier, Richard Young and Frank Hopfenbach – before the conference closes and delegates are provided with a window to discuss business before gathering again for the first Gala Dinner, which is sponsored by Bhuruka Gases, and an entertainment package, sponsored by Cryolor Asia Pacific.