Building for the Future

petroshotPrintPMOC event seeks to deliver game changing information

By Rod Evans

The organizers of the Petrochemical & Maritime Outlook Conference, coming to the Pasadena Convention Center on August 27, adhere to the axiom that “information is power”

The conference, which also serves as the centerpiece of the 30th anniversary celebration of the Economic Alliance Houston Port Region, is designed to be an information sharing event, during which business owners, executives and consumers can receive invaluable information regarding the latest developments in the petrochemical and maritime industries that could influence and impact the local business community.

“Our guests and attendees are what make this such a great conference,” said conference chairman Roger Blackburn, an executive account manager with Infinity Construction Services of Clute. “The attendees are a who’s who of state and national government, business leaders in the petrochemical, transportation and marine industries, as well representatives of the Port of Houston Authority. This is where business leaders come to hear the news that builds the future of our businesses and economy.”

Blackburn says the conference, which runs from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is followed by the 30th anniversary reception for the Economic Alliance, is in its fifth year and features an impressive lineup of speakers and panel discussions. Last year’s event was attended by about 660 people and organizers are expecting a similar turnout this year. Topics include refining, transportation and logistics, workforce development and industry regulation and policies.

Following a breakfast network session that begins at 7 a.m., the conference gets underway with a congressional update at around 8:20 a.m. that features an introduction by Todd Monette, Lyondellbasell plant manager. Congressmen Gene Green (District 29) and Brian Babin (District 36) will provide updates on legislation impacting the petrochemical and maritime industries.

At 9:05 a.m., Port of Houston Commissioner Roy Mease will introduce Port of Houston Authority Executive Director Roger Guenther, who will provide information on developments in the shipping industry and ongoing projects taking place at the port. Texas Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton takes the podium at 10 a.m. to discuss ever changing regulations and policies related to the oil and gas industries in Texas.

“More than any conference I’ve ever attended, this conference brings to those in attendance a solid foundation of what’s occurring in the Gulf Coast region,” Blackburn said. “We’re trying to offer information that is a game changer.”

The first panel discussion of the day, the “Petrochemical & Refining Panel,” includes representatives of some of the largest oil and gas refineries in the region and begins at 10:30 a.m. The panel includes: Mitch Krutilek, plant manager with ChevronPhillips, Chris Witte, senior vice president of BASF Freeport, Monty Heins, plant manager with Dow, and Barry Klein, general manager of the Shell Deer Park facility. The discussion will conclude with a question and answer session.

Following a lunch break, during which attendees are encouraged to take advantage of networking opportunities, the conference continues at 1 p.m. with the “Transportation and Logistics Panel” discussion. The panel participants include: Katoen Natie President Frank Vingerhoets, Beth Whited, vice president of marketing and sales for chemicals with Union Pacific, Matt Woodruff, director of public and government affairs with the Kirby Corporation and Mike Morris, presiding officer of the Houston Pilots Association.

Another networking break is scheduled for 1:50 p.m. before the “Workforce Development Panel” discussion begins at around 2:15. Panel participants include: Don Empfield with Zachry Industrial, S&B Engineering’s J.D. Slaughter and a representative from the Dream It Do It initiative.

“What I like about the conference we’ve put together is that we’re offering information that is the building block of the present and the future. If you are in business or a person that is a decision maker in your company, this is the place to be,” Blackburn said.

At 3 p.m., the conference continues with the “Industry Regulations and Policy Update” session, which will include Hector Rivero, president of the Texas Chemical Council; Rudy Underwood, vice president of state affairs with the American Chemical Council and Melissa Hockstad, vice president with the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers. The session concludes with an extensive Q&A session.
Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick delivers a concluding presentation at 4:15 that focuses on competitiveness in the downstream oil and gas industry, followed by closing remarks by Economic Alliance President and CEO Chad Burke.

Blackburn said all of the 39 booths available have been sold for the conference and will be staffed by a variety of companies and organizations related to the oil and gas, transportation, logistics and workforce industries.

Mentoring played a big role in the development of the conference curriculum and Blackburn says several companies and individuals have stepped up to help provide encouragement and inspiration to young people looking to begin careers in the petrochemical and shipping industries.

“We’ve been mentored in our careers, so we’re very big on mentoring,” Blackburn said. “I personally am sponsoring two tables for college students and people looking to get into this field. During the morning breakfast, we have set aside a place for students to meet one-on-one with our guest speakers and we hope this will help build momentum in their lives.”

The lobby of the convention center will be the location for the 30th anniversary of the Economic Alliance, beginning at 5 p.m. Blackburn said he’s proud to be a member of the Alliance.

“The Economic Alliance drives the economy in our area and we try to bring business to the area and to give everyone the help that we can to serve this area to help those looking to establish a business or build a manufacturing facility or plant in the region,” Blackburn said.

The conference features a long list of sponsors, including Bay Group Media, Lee College, the Port of Houston Authority, Infinity Group, ExxonMobil and CenterPoint Energy. For more information, including a full list of event sponsors and the conference schedule, visit or call 281-476-9176, ext. 4.

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