By Billy Thinnes
BOSTON -- Dr. Bela Kelemen was one of Tuesday's keynote
speakers during AspenTechs Optimize users
group. He is a senior vice president for the Hungarian
company MOL Group. Dr. Kelemen is a dynamic and articulate
speaker, and his remarks were well received in the convention
hall. He noted that the energy world is now diverging into
three distinct regionsNorth America, Europe and Asia.
Somewhat humorously, Dr. Kelemen labeled America as a returning
rock star, Europe as a retiring pensioner and Asia as a hungry
Dr. Kelemen would not be surprised if 30% of Europes
refineries were shuttered due to financial woes. Meanwhile, he
noted that Asias impressive economic growth over the last
ten years shows no signs of abating. To demonstrate
Europes problems, he used his own company as an example.
He said that before the market crash of 2008, MOL Group was
producing $10 to $12 of profit per barrel at its refineries,
but then that plummeted to around $4 post-crash. Still, he
retains optimism about the future. He believes that the magic
trinity of business is technology, process and people,
overlaid by the knowledge that the most important thing is
always the voice of the customer.
Refiners face a litany of challenges in the realm of
scheduling and distribution, Dr. Kelemen said, so it therefore
quite important to place events in the right sequence. For
this, he said that a feasibility test is crucial. The constant
drama in the refining business is measuring what
is optimal vs. what is feasible. Interruptions, unexpected
events and opportunities are a day-by-day occurrence, and the
refiner that copes well with such challenges will the refiner
that is still in business in the future.
Knowledge is the right combination of information and
experience, he said.
To that effect, Dr. Kelemen extolled the virtues of
AspenTechs Academy, a corporate advisory group of
university professors. In particular, he referenced a supply
chain management class that emphasizes how theory and practice
go hand in hand. Lessons learned from the academy and other
business virtues could be summed up best from a Charles Darwin
quote that Dr. Kelemen spotlighted:
It is not the strongest of the species that survives,
nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is the most
adaptable to change.
MOL Group has worked with AspenTech for over 25 years and
looks forward to many more years of such a positive and
productive relationship, Dr. Kelemen said.
Other keynote speakers featured at the Optimize
users group in Boston included John Kearney, technical director
at Wood Group, Dr. George Stephanopoulos, professor of chemical
engineering at MIT and Manolis Kotzabasakis, executive vice
president at AspenTech.