PCIC Europe 2016 Berlin Feeling the Pulse of Petrochemicals at PCIC Europe 2016
The PCIC Europe Conference 2016 in Berlin becomes the place to be for Petrochemicals — Big Oil under pressure: Changed markets, strong competition and new technologies demand efficient, streamlined and safe production processes. Neither operators nor engineers can resolve this Herculean task alone — professional exchange and interface technologies could become the cornerstone of tomorrow’s industry.
Sadara, shale gas, the decline in oil prices — hardly any branch is feeling the change as intensively as the petrochemicals industry. Be it new mega projects challenging established downstream players in the Middle East or cheap natural gas turning the value chains upside down, basic chemicals are always at the forefront of development. No wonder: Cruel oil is, and remains, the basic fuel of the industry.
Experts estimate that 10 % of the global oil consumption is used to produce basic and fine chemicals, polymers and intermediate plastic products. And even in a time when cheap US shale gas conjures visions of an ethylene-based chemical industry and analysts fear that typical naphtha products could become scarce, the “black gold” remains very important for Europe and Asia.
Furthermore, the new downstream projects worth tens of billions recently launched in the US are under enormous profitability pressure due to the continuous descent of the oil price. And while experts like Ineos’ CEO Jim Ratcliffe consider the European basic and petrochemical industry already down for the count, this trend provides a breathing space for the old world — but nothing more. The gaps in investment between Europe and the mega projects in the Middle East as well as the shale gas belt in the Gulf of Mexico are too large.
PCIC Europe Sets the Course for New Shores
It is definite that the industry needs new stimuli: efficient processes and technologies, optimised production processes and secure technologies. These themes are the premier topics of the “Petroleum-and-Chemical-Industry-Committee” (PCIC) Europe Conference 2016. The PCIC, which understands itself as the “Voice of the process industry”, gathers industry experts, plant engineers and government representatives for the thirteenth time, so as to enable practical exchange of experiences as part of lectures, workshops and discussions.
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The focus of the event, which is being hosted in Berlin for the first time in 2016, is very clearly on the one interface technology that is supposed to become a great enabler for the downstream industry: automation. The thematic framework of the event stretches from measuring, controlling, regulating, via integrated concepts, right down to safe operation.
Why Automation Will become the Key Technology
No matter which trend you consider, nothing can exceed automation. Even PCIC Europe sets the framework for the technical discussion, with the four corresponding technology emphases:
- Modular production
- Industry 4.0
- Cyber security
- Process optimization
As the organisers are unanimous, each of these themes will determine the chemical and petrochemical production of the future. Technologies like intelligent field units, integrated automation systems and modular process skids are already common practice now, especially in the upstream sector. Yet, these revolutionary developments are often limited to isolated applications. Uniform standards and interfaces are required to integrate the modular island solutions in existing production complexes so as to achieve the big breakthrough even in downstream and the primary industry. An exchange between the most varied disciplines and trades is thus overdue, if Europe’s downstream sector will not content itself with being a mere spectator in the global competition. Events like the PCIC Conferences can serve as a platform for exchange and an incubator for new concepts. Those who want to be in Berlin should register fast: In 2015, the 12th PCIC Europe conference attracted several hundred participants to London.