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Downstream event closes with focus on the need for strong collaboration in Middle East

The 2nd edition of the GDA International Downstream Conference & Exhibition 2023 was successfully held from 13-15 February 2023 at Bahrain’s newly opened, state-of-the-art venue, the Exhibition World Bahrain under the theme, ‘Downstream Turning Points – Capitalising on Transformation’ 

The GDA International Downstream Conference & Exhibition was held under the patronage of HRH Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince and the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Bahrain

The event welcomed more than 3,630 participants across three technical-packed days.  

In his opening address, HE Mohamed Bin Mubarak Bin Daina, Minister of Oil & Environment, Special Envoy for Climate Affairs, Kingdom of Bahrain said, the energy sector is facing unprecedented challenges, a volatile market, security of supply and, geopolitical and environmental concerns which in turn are forcing oil producers and refineries to transform and prioritize innovation and efficiency. Bahrain recognises the need to change, and while we work to achieve net zero, we also recognise that the oil and gas industry is here to stay. 

Suleman A Al-Bargan, chairman, Gulf Downstream Association (GDA) added, GDA continues to strive towards providing a platform for sharing knowledge and experience, and best practices. We are also thrilled to be the first oil and gas conference and exhibition to utilise this newly constructed state-of-the-art exhibition centre. This conference is an opportunity to bridge the long-standing business partnership between our Gulf national oil companies and the international service providers. 

In his keynote address, Mohammed Y Al Qahtani, executive VP downstream, Saudi Aramco, expressed the need to balance energy security and affordability with the energy transition, and outlined Aramco’s Downstream Transformational Strategy which includes investments in crude to chemicals, sustainable fuels, hydrogen and more.

The conference programme featured 172 world-renowned speakers, highlighting insights, experiences, and market trends on the future of downstream through six panel discussions, 18 technical sessions, three strategic sessions, and 10 expert workshops.

The downstream-focused exhibition showcased regional and international technology providers, policymakers, and academia in the industry. Special zones included the YouChemE Programme (Youth) and the GDA Plaza

Mohammad Al Shahrani, secretary general of Gulf Downstream Association (GDA) spotlighted GDA’s mission at the welcome address and emphasised on envisioning significant growth potential for the industry, despite the challenges posed by geopolitics, the energy transition, post-pandemic dynamics, and economic uncertainties. He touched upon how the conference programme was designed to address downstream challenges and explore creative ways of sustaining and growing the industry.

Key takeaways from the event:

• Decarbonisation of oil & gas sector is relevant and impactful. A short, mid and long-term strategy comprising of wake to well emissions, biofuels, and LCAF along with government incentives have kick-started the journey in the region. Session: Decarbonisation and Sustainability

• Digitalisation of refinery and petrochemical plants is a proven way to positively impact the industry's bottom line; however, as with any new technology deployment there is buy-in challenges and early adopters are most likely to benefit the most, Session: Digitalisation in Action, Real Case Study of Refinery Optimisation

• Up until five years ago, the industry’s focus has been on upgrading projects to convert lower value into higher value products. Given the disruptive energy transition challenges, the trend today is around energy transition projects including lower emissions, cleaner sources of hydrogen and further integration with petrochemicals. Session: Future Growth

• Due to the nature of limited feedstock and the need to minimise transportation, the solutions are likely to local and smaller. These biofuels production units will not enjoy the scale of typical big refineries, but will be more efficient in molecular management. Session: Biofuels Technology Overview and Trends 

Key sponsors and exhibitors include Saudi Aramco, KPI, BAPCO, KNPC, ADNOC, OQ, Arabian Fal, CLG & ART, Saudi Aramco Base Oil Company (LUBEREF), Petro Rabigh, S-Oil, Sadara Chemical Company, Saudi Aramco Jubail Refinery Company (SASREF), Yanbu Aramco Sinopec Refinery Co. (YASREF), ABIS, Al Yamama, Honeywell UOP, S&P Commodity Insights, SATORP, Saudi Aramco Mobil Refinery Company Ltd. (SAMREF), Shell Catalysts & Technologies, Topsoe, Yokogawa Middle East & Africa, Axens, Baker Hughes, Nalco Water An Ecolab Co., SUPCON, Veolia Water Technologies & Solutions, W.R. Grace & Co. and Saudi Petroleum Services Polytechnic (SPSP) among others.

Supporting organisations include the 24th World Petroleum Congress, Advisors, ASTM International, Energy Institute, LEWAS and Project Management Institute.