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22.10.2012
Belgium
Sector: LPG

AEGPL 2012 Congress - all in one

Every trade has a moment during the year when its representatives meet to discuss the current state of affairs and prospects for near and further future. The broadly understood LPG sector met in June 2012 in Brussels to do exactly that – debate market condition and possibilities for its development. The choice of the hosting city was far from coincidental, and for a number of reasons.
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Ramon de Luis Serrano, president of AEGPL© AEGPLThe potential of LPG remains vast, but there will be no progress and development without hard work - this is the general conclusion of the Congress

First of all, Belgian capital is – since the 2006 move from Paris – the home of AEGPL (European LPG Association) headquarters. Secondly, it is also in Brussels that the European Parliament and European Commission gather and debate matters crucial to LPG business. Furthermore, since deputies from all EU countries are in the same city as participants of the Congress, it is easier to invite the former so they can speak on matters important to the latter. And indeed, the 24th AEGPL Congress was visited by European bureaucrats. There was also a Polish episode to the event.

More specifically, the opening address was given by professor Lena Kolarska-Bobinska, who stressed the importance of LPG and natural gas for Europe's energy mix, particularly in the light of suggested legal and taxation changes concerning gaseous fuels. The Polish deputy particularly accentuated the role LPG has to play in those regions of the Old Continent which are off the natural gas grid. AEGPL president, Ramon de Luis Serrano, then addressed the participants with an appeal to keep the LPG trade innovative, so that it can face the challenges posed to all energy sources and providers.

The above forewords were followed by a lively discussion. Soon after it had begun, the question was raised: How to keep LPG competitive in decades to come, while renewable energy sources are growing in significance by the year? In the course of debate, it was agreed and concluded that such features of LPG as eco-friendliness, versatility and high adaptability to new uses must be highlighted and promoted. LPG is a simple and cost-effective energy source with a well-established distribution infrastructure which, should need arise, can be quickly developed in new regions. In distant future, LPG may become less competitive and be ultimately defeated by zero-emission, renewable energy sources, but in the short term it is a perfect alternative to heating oil, which, according to speakers (Loïc Driebeek of SHV Energy and John Walsh of UGI Corporation, among others), should be particularly pointed out.

Naturally, a portion of the conference was dedicated to autogas matters. Liquefied petroleum gas as motor fuel has been long perceived as a driving factor for the expansion of the entire LPG trade, although it was stressed that there is need for a closer cooperation with car manufacturers (so that new models are offered with ex-factory autogas systems) and local governments (to ensure fiscal stability and thus long-term savings). The potential remains vast, which was showcased by case studies presented in Brussels. For instance, in Spain the company Repsol has been developing refueling infrastructure under its own brand from scratch – in 2010 there were no refueling stations at all, in 2014 there could be up to 400 across the country. Italy has been doing great, too – as it turns out, government subsidies are not crucial for the autogas sector to grow, while stable LPG price is.

It is widely believed in Europe that LPG is best suited for heating use and as motor fuel. Meanwhile, across the Atlantic new uses for LPG bloom. Gas is used for powering lawn mowers, hedge trimmers and the ever-popular barbecues. In Europe, these are powered by petrol, electricity and charcoal, but hopefully it is only a matter of time until they are replaced by convenient, cheap, safe and eco-friendly LPG.

As usual, the Congress was accompanied by an exhibition, during which approximately 100 companies from Europe and across the globe presented their latest products and serviced. The exhibition was held right next to the area lunch, which in all probability enhanced its popularity among participants of the Congress. Furthermore, exhibitors were given the opportunity to present selected items from their offers in more detail on a specially prepared stage. The presentations, delivered during Congress breaks, were not strictly commercial in nature, but were meant to highlight certain new products and technologies. The initiative was very well received and will be continued in future editions of the event.

The 2012 AEGPL Congress attracted approx. 1200 trade representatives, who left with the impression that it had been one of the best organised, most attended LPG business events in history. A grand new one is coming, though – in 2013, the annual AEGPL Congress will be held together with two other important LPG meetings: the WLPGA World LPG Forum and UKLPG conference. It could be worthwhile reserving time in your personal calendar for the beginning of October 2013...



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Robert Markowski
source: AEGPL



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