AFPM Summit 2023 – Excellence and Plant Performance
The 2023 AFPM Summit kicked off Monday, October 2 at the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center in Grapevine, Texas. The AFPM Summit is the organization’s premier technical conference dedicated to improving plant-wide performance in the refining and petrochemical industries. Sessions are led and attended by engineers, managers, operators and leaders across the downstream sector.
More than 1,400 attendees of this year’s event have the opportunity to re-connect with industry colleagues, share ideas and best practices, and learn from numerous presentations, technical sessions and discussions with subject matter experts from the entire value chain of the hydrocarbon and petrochemical processing industries.
This year’s conference will feature technical tracks in maintenance, hydroprocessing, crude/coking, FCC, sustainability, alarm management, artificial intelligence (AI), unit reliability, digitalization, turnarounds and alkylation, among others. The focus on emerging leaders and women in the industry continues to draw great interest from the attendees.
Attendees include technical managers, process engineers, reliability leaders, contractors, operations managers, maintenance leaders, process control leads, optimization managers, emerging leaders, change agents related to digital transformation, and those involved in technology licensing and turnaround planning and management.
Additionally, more than 45 leading companies are onsite to showcase their products, technologies, best practices and strategies in the event’s Technology Hub.
Welcome Address. Chet Thompson, President and CEO of AFPM, welcomed the audience of Monday morning’s General Session by providing an update and information about the impact the attendees have on their industry.
Chet Thompson, AFPM President and CEO
“We launched this conference a few years ago to promote operational excellence and to bring together in the same place and at the same time the various disciplines and subject matter experts necessary to operate our complex facilities,” Thompson said.
He stressed that crises like the COVID pandemic, global supply chain disruptions, record inflation, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and rising tensions with China have “laid bare” the importance of energy security and just how fortunate the U.S. and North America are to have it. “Our abundant natural resources, our world-class refining and petrochemical assets, our unparalleled infrastructure and workforce are the envy of the world,” he stated, “and have helped buffer us from the worst of these crises.”
“Nonsense,” is what Thompson had to say about the critics of the refining and petrochemical industries and those that choose politics over facts, and those he said, “grandstand for a world without us despite knowing full well that reliable, affordable and scalable alternatives do not yet exist.”
“Our refiners and petrochemical manufacturers have been around for more than 100 years, and we will be here for 100 more,” Thompson said, “We will continue to drive progress through innovation, produce ever cleaner products, in increasingly sustainable and safer ways. Our facilities and our midstream network are invaluable assets to our country, and fundamental to our energy security and that of our allies. The national security of America is premised on energy security…the former is near impossible without the latter. We are also essential to enabling economies and societies all around the world to thrive.”
Despite the pervasive hostile rhetoric by many U.S. policymakers, Thompson asserted that if the last few years had indicated anything, it was that the world needs more energy and petrochemicals, not less; and that U.S. refiners and petrochemical manufacturers are, by far, best positioned to deliver those products cleaner, safer and more efficiently than the rest of the world.
“Our industries invested $20 B into their domestic facilities last year, and more than $100 B of further investment is expected over the next five years,” Thompson said. “Many of these investments are in carbon reductions, including carbon capture, renewable diesel, sustainable aviation fuel and hydrogen. Investments have also been made in advanced recycling technologies that transform difficult-to-recycle plastics into new, high-quality materials. These technologies that will help us achieve the promise of a more circular economy.”
He asserted that these investments are on top of broader commitments to increase efficiency, conserve water, reduce waste, preserve land and fragile ecosystems, and to remain among the safest manufacturing facilities in the country.
“Let’s take a moment to recognize our facilities for what they are: the economic backbone of hundreds of communities throughout our country. Our members contribute some $500 B to the national GDP, hundreds of billions of dollars in taxes, and support 3 MM jobs nationwide for people of all backgrounds, education levels and skillsets,” Thompson said.
“Let me be clear on an important point: AFPM is not anti-renewable energy or anti-EV. Renewable energy and petroleum products go hand in hand. There would be no renewable energy, EVs, solar panels or wind turbines without us,” he stressed. “To those who want to ban the internal combustion engine, I say do your homework and face some facts. Transitioning away from liquid fuels would hand over our hard-won energy security to other countries that do not have our best interests at heart.
“Policies that ban our products and the internal combustion engine are not only anti-consumer, but they are bad environmental policy, bad economic policy and harmful for U.S. national and energy security.”
Lifetime Achievement Awards. Thompson concluded his remarks by presenting the prestigious AFPM Lifetime Achievement Award to two worthy recipients: Fritz Kin, Director, Safety, Security, Emergency Response and PSM for Marathon Petroleum Corp.; and Tim Olsen, Solutions Consultant, Emerson Automation Solutions.
Fritz Kin, Director, Safety, Security, Emergency Response and PSM for Marathon Petroleum Corp.
Tim Olsen, Solutions Consultant, Emerson Automation Solutions