Two days of informative presentations and networking activities came to a close on the shores of the Persian Gulf in December as the Middle East & North Africa Industrial Gas Conference (MENA) 2013 concluded in Dubai, UAE. 

With an exhibition hall of over 40 booths, a panel of both local and international speakers, and a diverse and compelling agenda throughout, the conference was an event not to be missed. 

Held at the prestigious Jumeirah Beach Hotel in the heart of Dubai from December 3–5, 2013, the conference united industry professionals from across the globe to tackle the current and future dynamics in the MENA gases industry, including the next wave of economic and industrial growth that is building in the region. 

The event’s agenda was diverse, covering topics such as bulk liquid distribution, specialty gases, the automation megatrend, argon recovery, CO2 and desalination, safety, and enhanced oil recovery (EOR). Presentations and Q&A sessions tackled the many-faceted theme of Driving Success in a Changing Market. 

The conference was the third gasworld event held in the Emirate of Dubai and its fourth in the Middle East region overall, and drew more than 250 delegates from over 25 countries. 

The US market and specialty gases business were both well represented; among the delegates and exhibitors were companies such as AGC Instruments, CryoVation, Electronic Fluorocarbons LLC, Global Gases, PDC Machines, RegO, Rexarc International, Rotarex, Servomex Group, TrackAbout, Weldcoa, and Weldship Corporation. 

Specialty Gas Takes Center Stage 

An engaging agenda opened with Dr. Joannes Mongardini, Ph.D., Head of Economics at Qatar National Bank (QNB), discussing, “The Economic Transformation of the MENA Region: The Path Ahead.”

Bernardo Sestini, Managing Director of Italy’s independent chemical groups SIAD S.p.A, followed with his journey through “Independence – The Success Factor.”

The focus of the conference  then switched back toward the growth prospects in the region, with gasworld’s Marcus Jakt stepping up to present the market outlook from a Business Intelligence perspective. 

Despite political unrest, the Middle East and North African industrial gas industry is booming. Jakt picked up on this trend explaining that the Middle East’s modest slice of the global industrial gas market cake is only set to grow further and reflected on the latent potential.

Day one continued with an emphasis on the supply chain and began in earnest with a discussion of Bulk Liquid Distribution from Graham Hunter, Managing Director of Cryogas Express (Pty) Ltd. 

Chris Street, CEO of UK-based Scientific and Technical Gases (StG), then took to the stage to present, “Special Gases — A MENA Opportunity or a Crowded Space?”

He opened with a brief explanation of StG’s rise to prominence in the scientific and specialty gases business and then proceeded to spell out the specialty gases opportunity in the Middle East. 

“There is a major opportunity for the specialty gases business in the market today, with major growth potential for specialty gases in the next 10 years in particular, driven by economic and infrastructural growth across the region,” he encouraged. 

“There are great requirements for specialist, niche products, greater traceability, and improved technical expertise from the suppliers. Key drivers include greater safety legislation and the freeing up of cross-border trade with the specialty gas market.” 

Street added, “I think the future is extremely bright here and there are opportunities for the right player in the right marketplace.” 

Concluding the day’s keynote presentations was Weldcoa President Hector Villarreal, who described “The Automation Mega Trend” and built upon presentations concerning cylinder filling optimization/automation and palletization at previous gasworld conferences in Dubai (2007), South Africa (2008), Chile (2009), and Brazil (2011). 

The day was rounded off with an afternoon of Promotional Booth time for the more than 40 exhibitors in the Safinah Ballroom. A spectacular and extremely well attended Gala Dinner sponsored by Gulf Cryo, who is itself celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, provided the evening icing on the cake for delegates, set against a backdrop of the stunning architecture of the Burj Al Arab hotel. 

Argon in Focus 

While economic modernization and the supply chain dominated day one, day two resumed with an exploration of applications, safety, and the market drivers in the region. 

First up was Servomex’s Dr. Steven Firth, Global Business Manager, and his presentation titled, “Improving Argon Recovery.” Dr. Firth explained how Servomex had previously been approached by a client with the objective of optimizing the process for argon extraction from the air separation cycle – and achieved this with great success. 

In a presentation that was perhaps of particular interest to specialty gases readers, Dr. Firth explained, “Traditionally, we have the argon coming off and the measurement is based on a traditional percentage oxygen measurement. Plants would tend to run safely and err on the side of caution. The requirement [for us] was to optimize the process for argon extraction and measure the level of nitrogen in crude argon directly. 

“We were able to configure one of our products as a chromatography unit, with a plasma detector to measure nitrogen directly in the argon without any cross-interference from the oxygen. The SERVOPRO Chroma was configured to measure at the same point as the traditional measurement, for the sub ppm analysis of nitrogen in crude argon, directly.” 

He continued to highlight the opportunity — and potential monetary gain — for gas producers, adding, “The recovery of argon can be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars per year; what we have been able to demonstrate is an increased yield of between 3-5 percent. We’re talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars here.” 

The final presentation of both the day and the conference came courtesy of The Linde Group’s Alessandro Gorla, who presented a topical subject for the region in focus, Enhanced Oil Recovery. 

Next Up, Chicago! 

With two days’ discussion and debate complete, gasworld’s John Raquet brought the curtain down on the conference and reflected on the change in the region, six years on from gasworld’s first conference in the Middle East in Dubai, in December 2007. 

Further Promotional Booth time concluded the afternoon, followed by an informal evening dinner in the venue’s Sunset Garden. 

The attention now turns to Chicago, Illinois where, from June 11–13, 2014, the North American Industrial Gas Conference (2014) will be jointly staged by gasworld and CryoGas International

The event will be held at the Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile and will explore Strategies for Profit in the World’s Largest Industrial Gas Market.

Register your interest for the CryoGas International 2014 North American Industrial Gas Conference today at www.cryogas.com/conferences.