StocExpo Europe 2009 opened in style today with a pre-show tour of the Port of Rotterdam, the home of the storage industry.
To mark the beginning of the fifth European event dedicated to bulk liquid storage, the Port of Rotterdam Authority showed guests key sights including building work on the new Gate LNG terminal, construction of Spanish biofuel producer Abengoa's ethanol plant, and storage tanks belonging to major terminals in the port, such as Vopak, Rubis, Odfjell and LBC.
Throughout the tour Ronald Backers, business development manager for bulk cargo and shipping at the Port of Rotterdam Authority, gave visitors an update of the surrounding activities.
One of the features the port is most proud of are its buoys and dolphins, which increase the speed and efficiency of ship-to-ship transfers. These have been so popular that the port has introduced a pilot scheme so that terminals can now view their availability online.
With all the hype surrounding the outcome of the Buncefield High Court ruling this week, Backers was also keen to explain what measures Rotterdam has in place to prevent such a situation occuring here.
The port has a dedicated fire brigade service, and every terminal pays a fee to have access to this. There are six mobile foam units, which are available for immediate response, and a water-based service, meaning that the maximum response time for an incident is only 15 minutes.
Only a few weeks ago in February a fire broke out at Kuwait Petroleum's Europoort refinery at the port, in one of the plant's desulphurisation factories, but because of the swift response time, a major disaster was averted.
The port is currently undergoing expansion to add 1,000 hectares of much needed capacity from reclaimed land and is also changing in other ways. Backers noted an increase in large ethanol tanks, something which was unexpected, but necessary due to the large quantities of ethanol coming from Brazil.
He also added that the port, like most business activities, is changing in response to the economic climate. Now that fuel demand is not rising as quickly in Europe as it has in the past, the large refineries such as BP and Shell are investing billions to switch their focus to the export market.
Backers will be opening tomorrow's three day conference, and will be joined by other key speakers such as Taf Powell,chief inspector and investigation manager for the Buncefield Major Incident Independent Investigation Board, Richard Kellaway, senior advisor for Global Infrastructure Partners and Chris Hunt, director general, for the UK Petroleum Industry Association.
StocExpo (Storage Terminal Operators Conference and Exhibition) is the leading international exhibition and conference for companies that are associated with the oil, chemical and gas tank storage terminal industries.
This year's conference promises to be bigger and better than ever, so for more information please register on arrival or visit www.stocexpo.com