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Tue 22 Feb 2011 12:00 AM

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Tech talks at ME-TECH

Technology providers meet downstream producers at the first Middle East Technology Forum.

Tech talks at ME-TECH
The first edition of ME-TECH was a major success as it gathers major international technology providers.

The first edition of the Middle East Technology Forum
(ME-TECH 2011) held in Dubai, was an opportunity for major technology providers
to showcase their latest innovation and to meet their clients.

The two day event, organised by Euro Petroleum Consultants
(EPC), attracted delegates from companies including SABIC, Saudi Aramco, Tasnee
from Saudi Arabia, Borouge and Abu Dhabi Oil Refining Company (Takreer) from
the UAE, KNPC from Kuwait, along with major technology providers including KBR
Technology, Shell and Haldor Topsøe.

Overall, the event attracted experts and individuals
involved in gas processing, oil refining, residue-upgrading and petrochemicals.
Conference sessions took place in parallel to cover the the event’s topics.

The first day of the event covered the gas processing and
oil refining sectors in the region. Phil Packer, principal, downstream oil
group at Nexant, said in his presentation on the outlook of the global refining
industry, that supply and demand of refined product is uncertain. “By 2015, we
expect a growth of 1.5% of supply,” says Packer. “This could be lower,” he

He also noted that global refinery utilisation is expected
to dip further as new capacity comes on stream, mainly from the GCC region.

Fareed Mohamed Al Jaberi, strategic studies and business
development manager at Takreer highlighted the development strategy in the
refining industry in his presentation. “Our development strategy at Takreer
includes a portfolio of initiatives including business improvement, new
projects and portfolio as well as unit integration,” he said.

During his presentation, Al Jaberi went through series of
initiatives that Takreer undertook in order to reach profit going as well as
improvement of production processes through the introduction of the right
technology. “Environment conservation is a top priority, it is like a customer
to us,” he said speaking about Takreer’s environmental credentials.

As part of its business improvement, Al Jaberi said that
Takreer is proceeding to modernise existing units and to add new ones to meet
the future low sulphure diesel requirements and also produce a high quality
product (diesel) for a better environment. “This will be through the
implementation of a cost effective approach which includes the selection of the
right technology, configuration and catalyst,” said Al Jaberi.

The second session was dedicated to technology developers,
who presented their papers focusing on clean fuel technologies. Speakers from
UOP, KBR and Haldor Topsøe focused their presentations on the cutting edge
development and upgrades of their technologies.

Yassir Ghiyati, sales manager at the hydroprocessing
technology at Haldor Topsøe presented a technical paper entitled technology
options for LCO upgrading. “When compared to other alternatives, the main
benefits of the two-stage technology are the ability to obtain the highest
cetane uplifts available in the market with much higher diesel yields, lower
hydrogen consumption and lower design pressure and CAPEX,” said Ghiyati.

The second day of the event was dedicated to petrochemicals
and residue upgrading. Tony Potter, managing director of CMAI Middle East,
presented a paper about olefins in the Middle East
entitled the next wave of petrochemicals in the Gulf region, where he noted
that the region is doubling its ethylene capacity over the next five years.

“In the last three years, 12 crackers went on stream adding
13 millions tonne per year,” he noted. “Six in Saudi
Arabia, three in Iran,
and one in UAE, Kuwait and Qatar,” he
added. Then, he moved to compare the Saudi LPG cracking cost to the US and the
Asian ones. “The cost of propylene cracking in Saudi Arabia is higher then ethylene
cracking,” said Potter. “But this cost is much lower than ethylene cracking in
the US and naphtha cracking
in Asia,” he said.

Dr Abdulrahman Al-Ubaid, executive vice president of
technology and innovation at SABIC highlighted his company’s journey toward
technology innovation. Al-Ubaid said that nations and companies should spend
more on technology and research. “Invention is about turning knowledge into
money,” he said. “In our region, the number of researchers and scientist is
about 300 per million inhabitants, which is far below the international level,”
he explained.

“At SABIC, we started our R&D centre in Riyadh with less than 10 scientists, but now
we have more than 1500 scientist and researchers,” said Al-Ubaid. “We developed
10 new technologies and more than 150 new products,” he revealed.

Spending on these R&D centre’s in the region is very low
and doesn’t match expectations. “Regional governments spend less than 2% of GDP
on research and development compared to 4% in Israel
and more than 2% in Singapore,”
he noted.

Al-Ubaid urged regional companies to invest more on research
and development centres. “According to the American Chemical Council, every
dollar invested in R&D returns 17%,” he noted. He also called companies to
live the innovation culture in order to advance.

The event was a real success for participants, who agreed
that the next edition promises to be more successful. “The event was an
excellent opportunity to meet clients and learn about the trend of the
industry,” said Chris Hotblack, director of hydrocarbon processing industries,
EMEA at Invensys.

Aman Ahmed, director at KBR technology said that the event
was a great opportunity to network. “It was an excellent opportunity for
networking not only with clients but also with competitors to discuss the
challenges we face in this sector.”

ME-Tech 2011 was also an opportunity for machinery providers
to exhibit their offerings. “We are interested in meeting end users, that’s why
we are attending the event,” said David Baker, regional director EMEA at
Elliott Group. The same view was shared by Mohamad Awad, lead technical
consultant at AVEVA net solutions in the Middle East.
“It was a very informative event, as it allowed us to understand the new trends
of the downstream industry, and also to meet clients,” he said.

The attendance of technology providers surpassed the number
of expected clients; some delegates expressed their wish to see more attendees
from projects owners at the event.

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