The sense of fervour and anticipation has once again filled the air of the San Cristobal convention room, as delegates returned refreshed from the coffee break to begin the second session of the gasworld conference.

Chaired by Cryolor’s Michael Blondin, the morning’s second session continues to explore the market opportunities afforded by the Latin America industrial gases business and opened with a presentation from Spiritus Consulting’s John Raquet.

As the leading independent industrial gas consultancy, Spiritus is well positioned to comment on the state of the gases business both around the world, and from a Latin American perspective. The presentation of Managing Director Raquet, titled Global & South American Gas Markets, was thought to have been one of the most keenly anticipated.

For those attending delegates, it certainly didn’t disappoint. Much has been made of the global economic downturn and its effect on industry, including the industrial gas business, and Raquet referred to this concern during his exploration of the market.

Describing the circumstances, Raquet said, “First of all, we have actually produced continuous growth over the last 25 years. Some of you might think that 2009 and 2010 don’t look that bright, I also believe that some economists seem to have been talking us into a recession.”

“It’s going to be tough, it’s going to be difficult but our industry will still grow. Let’s not forget it is a capital intensive business, and I’ve not heard any companies saying they cannot find investment.”

No-one can escape the sense of caution and negativity towards the global economy and its ongoing impact upon industry. Appearing to pour scorn on such negative suggestions that surround us at every turn however, Raquet said, “Just looking at our industry, since 1980 you can see that our industry might have flattened out on occasion but we’ve never gone into a recession, not our industry.”

“The recent boost to our industry was the weakening dollar that we had, hence the sharpening slope in recent years. Obviously the last quarter (2008) there was a slight suffering, but we had a strong nine months before that.”

Region of opportunity
Raquet’s optimism for the industry and its growth potential clearly extends to the Latin America continent too. Concluding his encouraging presentation, he remarked, “So let’s turn our attention to South and Central America. We described this as a region of opportunity and I’m still optimistic.”

“Energy as a growth driver is still going to continue, there is superb mineral wealth to be extracted in the region. There is large land mass to develop, which is useful for spreading out and building on, and so on.”

“There is a long way to go to reach up to the maturity levels of the US and Canadian markets, so again, I’m optimistic that this continent still has a long way to grow. It’s going to be tough, but I think we’ll find our way out of this,” he closed.

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