When staff at the World LPG Association (WLPGA; Paris) saw that this year’s LPG Week would have to be virtual, they decided they wouldn’t try to just replicate the physical event, they’d work to make something better.

LPG Week is the annual global event centered on the World LPG Forum. Last year’s edition, which was held in Amsterdam, drew more than 2000 participants from 108 countries. This year’s was to have been held in Dubai. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the physical event was postponed to next year and a virtual event was developed for this year. The first e-LPG Week is to be held Nov. 2-6.
e-LPG Week will have the same global perspective as the earlier, physical events, but will be easier to attend. With no need for travel, accommodations, and time away from the office, participation is open to a wider pool of presenters and attendees.

“This is a massive value proposition for the event,” WLPGA’s CEO and managing director, James Rockall, tells BPN. “Time, travel, and budget are all barriers to participation that only a few senior company representatives felt they could justify. We now have the opportunity to attract young and emerging talent, logistics managers, procurement professionals, HR managers, safety and environment representatives, etc. Added to the private sector participation, we also expect a great deal of lawmakers and public sector representatives for the same reasons.”
eLPG Propane Week goes virtual November 2-6 2020 reports bpn the propane industry's leading source for news since 1939
“The headline for this event is, the world is at your fingertips as never before,” he adds. “For people in the U.S., we are a complement to NPGA and PERC, offering access to global players and ideas.”

e-LPG Week will feature interactive sessions and partner events; online networking opportunities; and a virtual showcase for LPG companies. In addition to the World LPG Forum, events include Autogas Day, the Global Technology Conference, the LPG for Development Summit, and the World LPG Challenge. e-LPG Week also introduces three new areas of focused content: a Global LPG Price Drivers Workshop, a U.S.-focused presentation called “Prepared for Peak Demand,” and 15-minute prerecorded presentations named e-Snapshots. “It’s not just the Forum, but also regional and technical content,” Rockall explains.

Noting that many new virtual events have been rolled out since the start of the pandemic, Rockall says that what differentiates e-LPG Week is its depth and breadth of content. It brings together intelligence that is not available elsewhere; it covers the full LPG value chain across the globe; and it offers access to a global network of potential business partners, customers, and suppliers. He adds, “LPG Week aims to further gather the entire LPG value chain under one umbrella in one place during one week to improve efficiency for the industry and to drive the sustainable LPG market growth agenda.”

As a result of e-LPG Week being virtual, it will provide benefits that can only be delivered online. Rockall outlined some of the ways the sessions, the networking, and the exhibition will benefit from the new virtual format.

In the interactive sessions and partner events, those who connect live will be able to ask questions and vote in polls. In addition, the sessions will be recorded and made available for future viewing. “Our virtual event is so much more than a conference,” Rockall says. “You can of course connect live to a session, interact, ask questions, vote in polls, etc. But if you miss it, if you have another work commitment in parallel or it’s just dinner time for you, everything is available on repeat, via the platform, 24/7. And it will be available for months afterwards. This is highly valuable, stored knowledge that you do not get with a traditional event.”

As for networking, e-LPG Week’s online networking opportunities will be conducted through a database that enables visitors to connect with those with specified titles and interests. Visitors be able to access the event’s database, find useful contacts by entering key words, and then get contacts’ details and request appointments during the virtual event. “Meeting new contacts in a physical event is often random and unplanned,” Rockall notes. “Our virtual platform allows very targeted and efficient networking, facilitated by artificial intelligence that helps matching individuals with your interests.” He adds, “The tangible value of networking—creating new and valuable human contacts—is actually far better and more efficient in the virtual platform.”

In the virtual showcase for LPG companies, attendees can visit each exhibitor’s virtual trade show booth and linked resources and then set up a time to meet in a video call. “Our virtual exhibition will showcase everything that the exhibitors wish to show,” Rockall says. “It will allow face-to-face meetings and will enable company purchasing managers, technical staff, and project managers all to talk directly to their suppliers—something that was previously not possible when only a limited number of people from a company would travel to the exhibition.”

During e-LPG Week, WLPGA members will also be able to take part in association meetings to participate and learn. Rockall notes that members agreed to a new three-year strategic plan at last year’s World LPG Forum, and new activities and resources have been made available to members during the year since.

“Our new plan, entitled ‘Solutions for a Responsible Energy Future,’ groups our activities under just three main goals that we believe are most relevant to our global sector: Advocating LPG as part of the solution to future energy challenges; Supporting efficient and responsible business; and Innovation & Growth,” he explains. “Each of these goals targets three objectives over the coming three-year period. New member working groups have been set up to meet these objectives with new leadership structure in place for governance. All of our members can be involved with these objectives and we meet, either physically or virtually, at least three times per year in our ‘member engagement meetings.’”

Rockall also highlights four of the most exciting things that are currently happening with LPG around the globe, each of which will be addressed in sessions during e-LPG Week.

One is Cooking for Life, which aims to convert 1 billion people to LPG from biomass as a cooking fuel, in order to reduce dangerous indoor air pollution. Thus far, 500 million have converted, and that has halved the number of premature deaths each year. “People are still dying from cooking their food every day,” Rockall reports. “We could solve indoor air pollution with LPG.”

Second is clean transport. In a recent success, France, which has been pushing electric vehicles, this year acknowledged a role for LPG as a transport fuel. “There’s a link between air quality and COVID-19, so there is an interest in clean transport.”

Third is LPG for marine. Companies pressed to show emissions reductions have been moving to LPG as a marine alternative fuel. That’s been happening with very large gas carriers (VLGCs), but it will happen with smaller ships too. “This is a big story and it’s getting bigger, because it is easy to convert to propane.”

Fourth is power generation. “Whether it is centralized power gen, for a community, or distributed power, LPG is cleaner.”

Also new this year from the association are resources related to the pandemic. “WLPGA has a COVID-19 critical exchange platform active on its website,” Rockall says. “This information-sharing platform allows the industry from across the world to pose questions and receive answers to all matters related to the impact of the pandemic on our business.”

WLPGA has adapted to the effects of the pandemic and has continued its work. The association team has shifted to working remotely from home offices. Staff are accustomed to working remotely, though, because they serve clients in some 125 countries around the world. “Our 2020-2022 strategic plan includes nine specific objectives and we are able to continue with nearly all of these planned,” Rockall reports. “What we do miss is face-to-face contact with key individuals and groups, which is often vital for effective advocacy work. But with many meetings now shifted effectively online, we are now able to continue most of these meetings as well. In short, I would say that WLPGA is very adept at adapting.”

When it became clear that the physical LPG Week for 2020 would have to be postponed, the decision to hold a virtual event was challenging, Rockall says. “But we adapted extraordinarily quickly at a time when all of our business was shifting online. We solve the problem by looking at the virtual event as something with intrinsic value in its own right.”

“For those who have never attended a previous Forum, this is the opportunity to do so,” he concludes. “It involves no travel, no accommodations, no visas, and no time out of the office. Added to which the registration fees are some 80% lower than normal.”

For more information about e-LPG Week, and to register to attend the Nov. 2-6 event, visit www.lpgweek.com. — Steve Relyea