Europe's Downstream Elite to Unite at Refining Summit

Europe's refiners are engaged in an ongoing balancing act. As they struggle to sustain long-term operational excellence, they must enhance their product yields and improve their collective environmental footprint in response to evolving regulatory demands. The fact that 40 percent of the region's 104 refineries are slated to undergo refurbishment projects in 2013 indicates the magnitude of this balancing act.

An upcoming gathering at the prestigious Turnberry Resort on the southwestern coast of Scotland will provide Europe's refining decision-makers a forum to discuss bold solutions for surviving a tenuous business environment.

Ben Williams, director of GDS International's 2nd Annual Next Generation Downstream Summit Europe said the Nov. 5-7, 2012, event is geared for industry players willing to pursue a different course in order to emerge stronger from the uncertain times.

"Some downstream businesses will see this as an opportunity to change and to shake off their conservative image that sometimes is seen looking in," Williams said. "Flexibility, adaptation and diversification will be the order of the day for the five- to 10-year outlook."

Rolf Hemminga -- Baar, Switzerland-based director of sales for Emerson Process Management Europe's Process Systems and Solutions and Asset Optimization businesses -- echoes Williams' point. He noted that how a refiner approaches challenges such as ever-changing regulations and crude oil access is key.

"[The challenges can] lead to opportunities to bring solutions on process control optimization, energy efficiency, flexibility in managing crude quality changes and better control and measurements," Hemminga said.

Rasmus L. Wille, vice president of refining with Statoil, expects that the closure of less competitive refineries in Europe -- as difficult as the process is -- will eventually be a net positive for the region's downstream sector.

"When inefficient refineries are closed overcapacity will be less, leaving a better margin for the rest," Wille said. "Eventually, I also think the financial crisis in Europe will end which hopefully will improve the demand balance for refined products."

Wille also said that events such as the Next Generation Downstream Summit are very helpful for those setting a path forward for the region's refining sector.

"Discussing these issues with peers makes a 'stronger front' when challenging competitiveness of the refining business," Wille explained. "Meeting peers also gives new ideas on how other companies have solved problems just like your own."

Wille and more than 60 other senior- and C-level delegates will be attending the invitation-only summit in Turnberry. The two and a half-day event will provide delegates ample networking opportunities via high-level roundtable discussions, working lunches and one-on-one meetings. This year's program features 16 workshops that will focus on themes such as performance optimization, integrated platforms for refinery business applications, asset integrity services and turbo machinery.

Delegates will comprise a who's who in downstream industry leadership. Some of the senior executives in attendance will be the vice president of Neste Oil's Porvoo Refinery, the general manager for Total/Lukoil's Zeeland Refinery, the general director for TNK-BP's Ryazan Oil Refining business, and the director of Hellenic Petroleum. Other companies sending top-level delegates include ENI, ExxonMobil, Phillips 66, Cepsa, Koch Supply and Trading, Saras and Shell. A select group of vendors will include leading solution providers such as M-I SWACO, Nalco, Hydratight, KBC, Invensys Operations Management, Flogistics, Capstone Turbine Corporation, ABB, Technimont and many others.

DownstreamToday is serving as the summit's exclusive media partner for the second consecutive year.

Williams said this year's event promises to be even better than the inaugural NG Downstream Summit, which took place last December in Bremen, Germany.

"2011's historic event was a huge success with representatives from Total, Shell and TNK-BP calling it the best oil and gas event they have attended in 30 years," Williams recalled.

Hemminga, who attended the Bremen summit, expects the event in Turnberry to be another high-quality experience for Emerson Process Management.

"For us the access to the executives and providing knowledge on how we can help coping with the issues has been key," Hemminga said. "The [Bremen] event was well-organized, and for this year I expect to get access to the same level of delegates as last year."

To learn more about becoming a sponsor or delegate for the 2012 NG Downstream Summit, click here.

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