Downstream Transition

While experiencing unprecedented market variabilities, the global refining market is facing both long-term challenges as well as opportunities arising from technological advances and consumer-driven public carbon policies. Investment and operating approaches must account for fundamental shifts in regulations and demand trends, but also the competitive pressure from an emerging market supply.

As the downstream segment evolves to address this shifting landscape, the upcoming 23rd World Petroleum Congress in Houston from December 5-9 promises to provide an ideal platform for open dialogue on everything from how to improve existing asset efficiencies to growing new competencies in product and market development. The current and future shape of the downstream industry is an essential element of both the Congress’ strategic and technical programs.

The strategic program will be driven by government ministers, CEOs and other high-level stakeholders from across the globe. Comprising plenary sessions, panels and roundtables, high level discussions will be organized around five tracks, including one specifically for Industry Excellence in Downstream. Other tracks will focus on Industry Excellence in Exploration & Production, Excellence in Industry Innovations, Energy Realities in a Sustainable Future, and People, Society and Governance.

In addition to a strategic session on Downstream Mega Projects, there is also a featured strategic session moderated by Andrew Broadbent from the American Petroleum Institute (API), that will look at how to convert refineries into hyper-efficient centers where various technological routes are combined to deliver products and achieve a significant reduction in their emissions. The discussion will focus on the need for an integral vision to optimize processes, improve energy efficiency, and integrate artificial intelligence and digitalization, while initiating new skill sets and new approaches to stakeholder relations. Panelists for this session will include Mark Nelson, Executive Vice President, Chevron Downstream & Chemicals, USA; Gabriel Szabó, Executive Vice President Downstream, MOL Group Europe, Hungary; and Tomasz Wiatrak, Chairman of the Board & CEO, ORLEN Unipetrol, Czech Republic.

The technical program of the Congress will be composed of five different blocks including Innovation in Downstream. This block will address innovative technologies, improved resilience, and the growing role of midstream, as well as opportunities to explore emerging operational and business models down the chemicals value chain.

Downstream forums and roundtables at the Congress will look at best practices and the way forward related to topics including new challenges in respect to the arrival of new crude oil sources including shale oil, changes in the demand structure with the increase of electric vehicles and IMO sulfur regulations, and rapid demand decrease in developed countries due to the Paris Agreement.

Additional forums in the Congress’ Technical Program will look at how the refining industry can become better prepared for future changes by integrating upstream and downstream sectors. When properly designed, planned and implemented, integration not only diversifies companies’ product portfolio, but reduces site specific costs, increases capital efficiency and elevates returns. Practical case studies will demonstrate how strategic planning and operation of refining and petrochemical conversion units with common utilities can capture long term business benefits.

Beyond plenary sessions, CEO panels, strategic sessions, roundtables and technical forums, delegates will have the opportunity to attend industry insight luncheons and numerous networking events. Additionally, delegates can explore the Congress exhibition hall where companies will showcase their organizations and transition solutions. Also on the exhibition floor, attendees can find the Innovation Zone by ConocoPhillips, where selected innovators will present their latest solutions, and experience the Purposeful Journey, an interactive approach inspired by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations. To find out more and to register, please visit:

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