Petchem Pros Gather in Changing Berlin

First-time visitors to Berlin will quickly discover that construction cranes dot the German capital city's skyline. Indeed, change is widely evident in the historic, cosmopolitan city of roughly 3.5 million people. Consequently, the city was a fitting locale for a June 3-5 gathering of approximately 150 petrochemical industry professionals who contend with a dynamic competitive environment on a daily basis.

"The 11th Global Petrochemicals Conference proved to be a great venue for getting up-to-date with global markets and technology trends, to meet industry peers and debate industry policies," said Marcel Verschuur, Fluor Corp.'s chemicals process director for Europe, Africa and Middle East. "The location and the size of the conference allowed for an intimate atmosphere among participants, speakers, sponsors and organizers."

Scenes from the 11th Annual Global Petrochemicals Conference (all photos courtesy of WRA)

Held at Berlin's Steigenberger Hotel Am Kanzleramt, the conference organized by the World Refining Association (WRA) featured more than 20 senior-level speakers who engaged with attendees via a series of panel discussions, roundtables, case studies and other presentations. Some of the speakers on this year's conference program included:

  • Dorothee Arns, executive director for petrochemicals and plastics additives with Petrochemicals Europe, who discussed how shale gas is affecting the region's petchem sector as well as European Union regulatory issues
  • Petri Lehmus, vice president of research and development with Neste Oil, who enlightened delegates on renewable feedstock opportunities
  • Anil Chandramani, chief investment officer with International Finance Corp., who encouraged attendees to consider capital projects in developing countries
  • Michelle Ho, senior managing editor with Platts, who briefed attendees on evolving polymers prices in Europe
  • Gabor Kenessey, general manager with Oman Oil Refineries and Petroleum Industries Co. (ORPIC), who outlined approaches for optimizing supply chain management.

WRA also unveiled a series of new networking formats at the 2014 GPC, including a wine and cheese tasting that tested attendees' knowledge of chemical formulas. At least one delegate found the networking lineup perhaps too effective.

"The speed networking was so great, and there were so many people, I ran out of business cards," said Yang Ling of Sinopec's Europe Representative Office in Frankfurt.

"Thank you to all participants," concluded Bryony Senczyszyn, WRA's head of downstream content. "The fruitful exchange in the room reflected the challenges and opportunities of the current marketplace. I hope the new relationships formed will contribute to shaping the future of the industry."

Sencyszyn and her colleagues at WRA are already busy planning the next GPC, which is scheduled for June 2-4, 2015, in Düsseldorf, Germany.

DownstreamToday served as media sponsor for the 2014 GPC.

Matthew V. Veazey has written about the upstream and downstream O&G sectors for more than a decade. Email Matthew at Twitter: @Matthew_Veazey