World LP Gas Forum to explore ways industry can sell, promote propane

August 27, 2014 By and    

The World LP Gas Forum moves to Miami this year. Photo:

Safe, low-carbon energy solutions already exist in the form of liquefied petroleum gas, says James Rockall, CEO of the World LP Gas Association (WLPGA). So why do politicians and energy-industry leaders still talk about the need to develop new energy solutions?

That’s an issue WLPGA will try to address at its 27th annual World LP Gas Forum from Oct. 28-30 in Miami. The theme of the event is “The Future Starts Now.”

“The message here is that we do not need to wait for future solutions to the energy challenges we face,” Rockall says. “LPG and propane can provide that solution, so we want to make sure that comes across clearly.”

LP gas and propane are ready to become major sources of fuel for cooking needs in developing countries and to power vehicles, Rockall says. The forum will provide attendees with information about similar industry trends and opportunities that can help LP gas businesses grow.

The event will take place in the United States for the first time since Chicago hosted in 2006. The industry has changed significantly since that time. Nearly a decade ago, the United States was a net importer of propane. Today, the nation is on pace to become the world’s largest exporter of propane, Rockall notes.

World LP Gas Forum

Last year, Princess Anne of England, above, opened the World LP Gas Forum in London. Photo: LP Gas

But much of the LP gas produced in the United States is underused. LP gas accounts for only 2 percent of global energy use, according to Rockall.

“It’s not being produced to meet demand,” Rockall says. “It’s a byproduct of the demand for oil and natural gas. And if we don’t use that product for productive uses as a fuel, it will become a feedstock for petrochemicals or it will be flared.”

Roy Willis, president and CEO of the Propane Education & Research Council, will discuss the gap between production and demand during the first scheduled forum session Oct. 28. His presentation will focus on why the development of new propane applications and the expansion of existing technologies should be among the key industry goals.

“There’s a lot of interest around the world in what this council and industry is doing,” Willis says. “The forum will provide perspective from people who look at our market very differently than we do.”

World LP Gas Forum

Attendees of last year’s World LP Gas Forum were treated to a gala dinner. Photo: LP Gas

One reason LP gas lags other fuel solutions is a lack of public awareness regarding its value. Part of WLPGA’s mission is to promote the use of LP gas as a fuel that adds value to humanity. For instance, the organization in 2012 launched Cooking for Life, a campaign aimed at converting 1 billion people in developing markets from cooking with traditional fuels, such as wood and charcoal, to cooking with LP gas by 2030.

Jonathan Benchimol, president of the Ibero-American LP Gas Association, will chair a session Oct. 29 that focuses on the use of LP gas to help address many of these global challenges.

WLPGA also launched a website called dedicated to the use of LP gas for automotive applications. The forum will conclude with the Global Autogas Summit, where discussions will include the promise of converting commercial fleets to autogas.

A global event
Many of the forum speakers and sessions will focus on ways to improve the perception of LP gas, so the industry can strengthen its market position. In addition, most attendees from countries outside the United States are not competitive with the domestic LP gas industry. This means attendees can share business practices more freely and learn from one another, Rockall says.

World LP Gas Forum

The market perception of LP gas is one topic that will be discussed at October’s World LP Gas Forum in Miami. Photo: LP Gas

The event provides a glimpse into new technologies and ways U.S. producers can develop particular markets, says Stuart Weidie, president and CEO of Blossman Gas. Weidie has been attending the World LP Gas Forum for the past 10 years.

“I think it’s a unique opportunity to hear leaders from around the world who are in the propane business and what they are doing to create and develop markets for propane as an energy source,” says Weidie, who will chair a forum roundtable on autogas. “And there are a tremendous amount of ideas that can be gleaned from being exposed to and participating in the event.”

Retail propane sales have declined in the United States, while other global markets have experienced growth, Weidie says. The forum provides insight into how other industry leaders have grown their markets, he says.
Event attendees will have more networking opportunities than they may have experienced at past events. That’s because WLPGA has combined the event with the 29th AIGLP Congress. AIGLP is the LP gas association for Latin America. WLPGA started to combine the World LP Gas Forum with local associations in 2013.

The combined event should boost attendance and bring together more industry leaders from different parts of the world, Rockall says. He expects attendance at this year’s event to reach 2,500 to 3,000 people.
“The exhibitors have a more powerful meeting with visitors because there are more people coming at a more concentrated period,” Rockall says. “I also think it’s important for our outreach to media as well because bigger events often have a bigger profile.”

Singapore will host the 2015 World LP Gas Forum, and WLPGA also recently announced Istanbul as the host country for 2016.

The finer points
■ The World LP Gas Forum will be held Oct. 28-30 at the Intercontinental Miami hotel.
■ The National Propane Gas Association will host its fall committee and board meetings prior to the forum, Oct. 26-28 at the Epic Miami hotel.
Go here for more information about the world forum.


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