Innovation and collaboration should be at the core of all downstream operations, say GDA conference speakers

Industry experts at the inaugural GDA International Downstream Conference and Exhibition 2018 agreed that innovation and collaboration should be at the core of all downstream operations across the region.

The GDA Conference and Exhibition was officially opened by His Highness Shaikh Ali bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, Deputy Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Bahrain.
The GDA Conference and Exhibition was officially opened by His Highness Shaikh Ali bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, Deputy Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Bahrain.

Panellists from leading stakeholders such as KNPC, Saudi Aramco, Bapco, ADNOC Refining, IHS Markit, Axens, Total, World Petroleum Council, Masdar, ACWA Power, Shell Global Solutions International, and other leading downstream players in the region, addressed industry challenges such as future of fuels, energy, margins and the crucial topic of human capital efficiency at the GDA International Downstream Conference and Exhibition that took place during 23-25 October 2018 at Bahrain International Exhibition & Convention Centre in Manama.

The three-day event saw over 2,500 professionals gather from more than 50 countries to hear 200 technical speakers that covered innovation and technology, improvements, digitalisation, integra-tion, and energy. The GDA Conference proved to be the leading Middle East strategic platform for downstream professionals to address business challenges, share the best practices and unlock potential opportunities through collaboration and partnerships.

Striving towards excellence, this forum successfully achieved the aim of engaging regional and international stakeholders across the business, academia and technology providers to capitalise on investment, innovation, and growth.

Under the theme of ‘Towards a Competitive Downstream through Innovation, Collaboration and Technology’, the GDA Conference 2018 opened with keynotes featuring three speeches from Bakheet Al-Rashidi, minister of oil and minister of electricity and water, State of Kuwait; Shaikh Mohamed bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, minister of oil, Kingdom of Bahrain; and Suleiman Al-Bargan, vice president, domestic refining and NGL fractionation, Saudi Aramco.

Engineers and technical experts met under one roof to address, review and reflect current trends, challenges and delved into the best practices other companies were adapting to stay relevant.

Audiences were held captive to a strong line-up of technical sessions that included topics such as capturing maximum value from bottom to barrel, upgrading heavy oil strategies for improved refinery economics, using big data analytics to detect faults in chemical processes, new crude heater for better efficiency, reliability and environment performance, demystifying the digitalisation challenges towards a successful downstream industry deployment, and first industry artificial intelligence application in crude refinery, amongst many others.

The event also hosted the Leadership Excellence for Women Awards and Symposium (LEWAS), GDA TechXperience, and YouChemE – the Youth Initiative. Each of these exciting parallel events gathered momentum as it truly displayed the coming together of a rich ecosystem in the industry.

LEWAS, a co-located event of the GDA Conference and Exhibition 2018, recognised leading women in the downstream business in seven unique categories. The winners were announced at the GDA Gala Dinner on 23 October, ranging from academia, industry and beyond.

Winners in each category were: academic achievement – Nouf AlJabri, KAUST; academic of distinction – Dr Rawa Al-Jarallah, Kuwait University; rising star – Sarah Alamer, Saudi Aramco; leading with excellence – Alanood Alrabiah, Saudi Aramco, and Abeer Olayan, Saudi Aramco; woman of achievement – Tayba Al Hashemi, ADNOC-AlYasat; corporate champion – Eyad AlBasrawi, Saudi Aramco; and corporate excellence – ADNOC Offshore.

A special award, LEWAS Legend, was presented to Nabeelah Al-Tunisi. The highly successful symposium that was held on the final day saw a high calibre of panellists who discussed issues in the downstream industry, including a debate on to ‘quota or not to quota’; a presentation by the Supreme Council for Women by Dr Rania Al-Jurf and Saudi Aramco’s HR Leader, Reem Al Ghanim, a winning women’s panel – the opportunities women have found in the downstream industry; and an opening keynote on the best practices in recruiting, developing and advancing women in the downstream sector.

The GDA TechXperience was an interactive workshop hosted at the Gulf Downstream Association Plaza, which engaged visitors to 3D print their own spare part. Participants got a chance to get behind the scene and built an EV3 TRACER robot with a temperature sensor to detect oil leaks and cold spots in pipes.

Finally, the YouChemE Program, organised by the Young Chemical Engineers at BChemME, was dedicated to students and young professionals to help them learn, network and be inspired by successful professionals to be ready for the workplace.

This year, the programme featured panel discussions with senior executives, workshops delivered by renowned professional speakers such as Suleyman Ozmen, vice president – downstream licensing (retired), Shell Global Solutions International; Nadia Al-Hajji, deputy CEO, KIPIC; Hafedh Al Qassab, general manager, refining, Bapco; and Dr Prof Riyadh Hamza, president, University of Bahrain.

“On behalf of Middle East Energy Events (ME3), the event management company for the GDA Conference & Exhibition recently held in the Kingdom of Bahrain, I would like to thank His Royal Highness Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, Prime Minister, the Kingdom of Bahrain for the event patronage,” said Alexis Neron-Bancel, managing director, ME3

“I wish to also express our gratitude to both Shaikh Mohamed bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, minister of oil, Kingdom of Bahrain, and Bakheet Al-Rashidi, minister of oil and minister of electricity and water, State of Kuwait, for attending the opening ceremonies,” added Neron-Bancel.

“The Gulf Downstream Association under the supervision of its board members and the leadership of Suleman A Al Bargan, GDA 2018 Conference chairman and vice president, Saudi Aramco, created the ideal membership platform and provided unlimited support, allowing our team to deliver a world-class meeting.”

The GDA Conference and Exhibition 2018 was held under the patronage of Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, Prime Minister, Kingdom of Bahrain, and was opened by Deputy Prime Minister Shaikh Ali bin Khalifa Al Khalifa.

The Gulf Downstream Association (GDA) was founded by Saudi Aramco, Bahrain Petroleum Company (Bapco), Kuwait Petroleum International (KPI), Kuwait National Petroleum Company (KNPC) and Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), as a non-profit organisation that aims at exchanging information, experiences, and outstanding technical practices, and raising the efficiency of employees in the sector of refining, distribution and associated facilities, as well as contributing to the economic and social development of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.

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