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2020 AFPM Summit: Kick-off Keynote—Emerging better, safer, cleaner and more efficient from today’s challenges

Emerging better, safer, cleaner and more efficient from today’s challenges

MIKE RHODES, Managing Editor, Hydrocarbon Processing


In Tuesday morning’s Kick-Off Keynote of the 2020 AFPM Summit, AFPM President and CEO Chet Thompson assured almost 4,000 registrants that while the event’s format has changed, they still can expect the same extensive program and world-class technical content.

“There is a silver lining about having to host this event virtually—it has allowed us to connect and engage with more industry professionals across the country than we probably would have otherwise,” Thompson said. “We at AFPM are very excited about this and it’s something that we are going to build on going forward.”

Thompson spoke about how the new Summit has been many years in the making. Indeed, he said that it was something that has been talked about since he joined the organization and was a result of feedback from members. “This is our effort to continue to build upon and improve our live conferences and technical programming in ways that will help our members and the industry,” he said.

CHET THOMPSON, AFPM President and CEO, addresses the virtual Summit audience during Tuesday morning's keynote address.

The new Summit focuses on the technical disciplines that are essential to plant performance; ensure that plants operate safely, efficiently and reliably; and help plants to achieve peak performance.

Thompson stated that the U.S. refining and petrochemicals manufacturers are the best in the world. “We are the cleanest, the most reliable, the most efficient and, certainly, the safest in the world,” he said. Thompson cited a report by the Department of Labor that states that the refining and petrochemicals industries have the lowest rate of injury of more than 500 U.S. manufacturing sectors that the Department monitors. In the last 10 years alone, the refining and petrochemicals industries have reduced the rate of process safety events by more than 50%.

“That’s a great accomplishment, but there is more work to be done,” Thompson said. “This progress over the decades hasn’t happened accidentally—it is a result of your commitment to excellence and willingness to work hard for the betterment of everyone.”

“Many disciplines and functions contribute to a plant’s performance; if any of these under-perform, then so will the plant. The Summit is designed to bring together subject matter experts from these various disciplines to share knowledge, to better understand everyone’s role, and to find ways to continue to seek improvement,” Thompson said.

The Summit has been designed to combine the best elements of the Reliability and Maintenance Conference, the Cat Cracker Seminar, and the Operations & Process Technology Summit. Bringing these events together reflects the way the industry is working more and more across disciplines. The next few days will provide ample opportunities to learn and network with your peers, Thompson said. There will be more than 70 different sessions with some 100 speakers.

The sessions cover a broad range of topics, including global oil demand in a post-COVID world, diversity and inclusion within our workforce, how data science schools can help enhance technical communications, and much more.

“I encourage everyone to visit the virtual exhibit hall. We have more than 60 exhibitors, and each one is standing by and ready to answer your questions,” Thompson said. “I also encourage you to visit our networking lounges, which provide the opportunity to connect live with speakers and fellow participants to really dive into a  number of topics that you may be more interested in.”

Thompson went on to thank those that put in an incredible amount of time and effort to ensure a successful Summit. They include:

  • Sponsors, including presenting sponsors BASF and Haldor Topsoe
  • Summit speakers and presenters
  • Summit Steering Committee and Summit team.

“I can’t thank the Steering Committee enough. Anyone that has looked at the agenda sees the substance and can quickly get a sense of how hard the AFPM Steering Committee and team have worked over the last two years, particularly when overcoming the challenges presented by COVID-19,” Thompson said.

“I also want to thank our AFPM members—we have the best trade members of any association in the country—and the 3 MM men and women that work across our industries. Throughout these latest challenges, you continue to deliver the essential fuels and petrochemicals that your communities and our country have needed.”

“The last few months have certainly been difficult,” Thompson said. “I’m confident that we are going to get through this pandemic, and that we will get through it together. In our industry, we have always managed through difficult times and come out stronger and better than before, and that is what we are going to do this time, as well. We will continue to get better, stronger, cleaner and safer, and we’re going to do it together.”


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