EPCA cancels 2020 annual meeting, mulls ‘virtual format’

Jonathan Lopez


LONDON (ICIS)–The European Petrochemical Association (EPCA) 54th annual meeting in October has been cancelled to avoid “undue risk” of coronavirus spread, but the trade group is mulling a virtual format.

EPCA’s annual meeting was due to take place on 4-7 October in Budapest.

In 2019, around 2,500 registered delegates attended the event in Berlin; however, with the number of non-registered individuals, who mostly take part in meetings on the sidelines of the official programme, attendance is much higher.

EPCA’s main remit is to organise this annual meeting, the largest networking event within the European petrochemicals industry, unlike its sister trade group Cefic which does more advocacy and lobbying.

To become a member of EPCA, fees range from €1,250/year for ‘associate members’ – those from trade associations across Europe – and €2,500/year for ‘full members’,  individuals from corporates.

The 2019 edition registered fewer participants than in 2018 (2,700) as the economic slowdown at the time was prompting corporates to cut some non-essential spending.

EPCA’s president, the executive at Arkema Marc Schuller, showed little concern about the fall in delegates, and in an interview with ICIS he focused on sustainability and how petrochemicals were key to achieve a greener economy.

That was then, in the pre-coronavirus world.

“Even in the event that the various pandemic lockdown measures were to be lifted, the potential participation of several thousand individuals would create an undue risk to delegates, speakers, staff members and external suppliers as well as to the citizens of Budapest,” said EPCA.

“The board of directors has decided to transition the EPCA 54th annual meeting to a virtual format, during the time period originally planned but with a revised programme … We are already working on the practicalities of this innovative approach in order to ensure [the event] is as engaging and meaningful as possible.”

The conferences industry was one of the first to be hit worldwide amid the coronavirus pandemic. In Asia, even second cancellations are already taking place.

While the initial epicentre of China seems to have contained the spread of coronavirus, other outbreaks have appeared in countries like Singapore and Japan.

On 24 April, the organisers of Chinaplas further postponed the event to April 2021; the event in 2020, initially planned for April, had been postponed to August.

Chinaplas is the biggest plastics and rubber trade fair in China.

The International Petrochemical Conference (IPC), the Americas version of EPCA’s annual meeting organised by the US trade group American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), was due to take place in New Orleans in March but was cancelled a few days before.

The city’s state of New Orleans was to become one of the most affected by the pandemic in the US, which is now the global epicentre.

“We thank you for your continued support and understanding and very much look forward to seeing and engaging with you – albeit virtually – in the very near future,” concluded EPCA on Monday.


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