EPCA cancels 2020 in-person edition in Budapest

Author: Jonathan Lopez


LONDON (ICIS)--The European Petrochemical Association has formally cancelled the physical version of its 2020 edition in favour of a three-day virtual forum, the industry group confirmed on Friday.

Coronavirus pandemic-induced social distancing measures make impossible to hold such well-attended event, with the EPCA’s annual meeting  originally due to take place on 4-7 October in Budapest.

In April, when Europe was the coronavirus pandemic’s epicentre, EPCA said it was mulling options for its annual edition.

On Friday, the industry group said due to persisting social distancing measures, the traditional format of event was not possible, creating instead the EPCA Community App for the conference attendees to still have “one-stop-shop” to be in touch and follow industry news.

However, EPCA is fundamentally a networking event where around 2,500 registered delegates (figures for the 2019 edition in Berlin), and many more unregistered, hold business meetings and agree deals within the petrochemicals industry.

There is  usually much less on the formal agenda than at many conferences.

Its remit is different to sister trade group Cefic, more focused on advocacy and lobbying.

The conferences industry, however, has been badly hit by the pandemic, with air travel restricted and social distancing making impossible a gathering with such many attendees.

“With social distancing now the norm, we sadly cannot pursue our usual programme of events that would allow us all to meet in person in Budapest,” said EPCA’s CEO Caroline Ciuciu.

The industry group said the conference’s programme would be “deliberately more focused” on the economy to come post-pandemic, with sessions hosting industry leaders giving insights on what they think the “implications of the New Normal and its trends” will be.

The conferences industry was one of the first to be hit worldwide amid the coronavirus pandemic; in Asia, even second cancellations have taken place, with the organisers of Chinaplas further postponing an event to April 2021 after this year’s April event had been postponed to August.

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

EPCA’s peer event in the Americas, the International Petrochemical Conference (IPC) organised by the US trade group American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), was due to take place in New Orleans in March but was also cancelled.

The city’s state of New Orleans was to become one of the most affected by the pandemic in the US, as the Americas has now become the pandemic’s epicentre.