Reflections on the Aromatics Conference 2010, Berlin

Aromatics Conference Berlin Nov 2010-20.JPGSitting again in the Segafredo café in Berlin Tegel departure lounge, I can see my two articles from this morning have gone up on the website, and there’s time to reflect on the Aromatics Conference


It really was the best speaker line-up ever, and one we’ll never be able to repeat.


I enjoyed the cosy double-act with the Dow and Styron speakers, where the former colleagues batted questions to each other. I liked Jeff D’s observation that this would be his “first opportunity to play the customer card – I’ll expect certain treatments,” he said.


Hans vdK touchingly had his wife in the audience to see his much vetted presentation on life after Chapter 11 bankruptcy.


Gianluca’s description of the place of petchems in Italian economic and political life had a lot of humour, particularly the wonderful maps showing the wild movements of aromatics back and forth across the sea between Sardinia, Sicily and Venice. He introduced me to the expression “Cathedral in the Desert,” which is an accurate description of at least one large chemical plant’s location in the middle of nowhere.


Piet V, standing bravely without crutches, got a good laugh when he plotted his own career against a graph showing the peaks of 1995 and 2000 and the recent slump in styrene cash margins.


Andrew J’s slides had mysteriously lost all their titles, so the audience was kept alert by having to write the screen titles onto the hard copy, rather like a children’s fill-in-the-blanks quiz.


For a European conference, we had some surprisingly long-haul participants. With the event set the day before the US Thanksgiving holiday, it was very sporting of our one American speaker to offer to take a morning slot before catching an afternoon flight back to his family celebrations. Our one speaker from China had also made a heroic journey all the way from her Beijing home for the two days.


I noticed that we had a slew of small-print disclaimers up on the screen from the majors. Certainly lawyers played a significant role in combing through presenters’ papers before the event. One speaker’s paper took so long to pass through various approvals that it wasn’t available in time to be printed for the conference booklet.


PHOTOS to follow

For all the news articles by Julia, Truong, Peter T, Elaine and me, see

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