CRUDE oil, natural gas liquids, and energy independence once again served as a focal point for the International Liquid Terminals Association’s Annual International Operating Conference. Speakers also addressed terminal maintenance issues and trends, market trends in terminal mergers and acquisitions, and fire protection.

More than 700 storage and terminaling specialists attended the conference, and 4,400 were registered for both the conference and trade show—a 20% increase over last year. The event was held June 2-4 in Houston, Texas.

“Year after year, our event has proven to be the leading conference and trade show for terminal industry professionals,” said Melinda Whitney, ILTA president. “The number of new exhibiting companies and the strong growth in overall attendance demonstrate the strength of our industry.”

The opening session featured James Fallon, director of Downstream Energy Consulting for IHS Global Inc, an energy market research company. He spoke about the increase in US shale production and how changes in transportation logistics are impacting the storage terminal industry.

Fallon reminded the audience that as recently as 2005, so-called energy experts were claiming that the United States was running out of natural gas and crude oil. The United States was destined to become the largest energy importer in the world, and petroleum transport and logistics infrastructure was designed and built around imports.

Then the “Great Revival” occurred, starting in the mid-2000s. With the price of oil rising, exploration and production companies began combining horizontal drilling with hydraulic fracturing, which had been pioneered in the 1950s. The initial focus was on natural gas but it soon shifted to natural gas liquids and crude oil.

US domestic natural gas production increased by approximately 20 billion cubic feet per day ((BCF/D) since 2005. Net natural gas imports decreased by approximately 4 BCF/D in 2013, and the United States is projected to be a net exporter of natural has by 2017.

US natural gas liquids production (from gas processing) increased by 700,000 barrels per day since 2008, a 40% increase. US crude oil and condensate production increased by 3.2 million barrels per day since 2008, a 64% increase.

US net imports of petroleum liquids (crude oil, natural gas liquids, and refined products) have decreased by 6.5 million barrels per day since 2005, a 54% drop. All of this is having a major positive impact on the US economy.

Terminal maintenance got attention with two speakers stressing the importance of preventive maintenance. Lori Pavlish, who is responsible for Dow Chemical’s global supply chain environmental, health, safety, and security program, delivered a presentation on “Evaluating your terminal’s preventive maintenance program.” Brad Wood, executive vice-president Juran Global discussed “Trends in terminal maintenance efficiency and effectiveness.”

Pavlish explained that Dow Chemical has a strong interest in storage terminal maintenance programs. “We must be able to evaluate a facility’s ability to store and handle all stored products safely and security whether the facility operates one tank or hundreds,” she said. “A comprehensive preventive maintenance program is one of the critical components to each facility’s success in the storage and handling of products without causing harm to personnel or the environment. During a facility review, Dow inspectors want to see that equipment is properly maintained and an effective preventive maintenance program is in place.”

Wood said that since 2007 the storage terminal industry overall has invested significantly more time and effort in preventive maintenance activity. As a result, unplanned downtime has dropped. However, maintenance spending is increasing, as is the cost of labor related to maintenance.

Seventeen companies were recognized for outstanding performance in protecting the safety of their employees across their terminal system. The awards were presented June 3 during the Eighth Annual ILTA Safety Awards breakfast.

“By presenting these awards, we are giving public recognition of a company’s safety accomplishments in the workplace,” Whitney said. “We also hope to motivate other companies to improve their safety performance so they can qualify to receive an ILTA safety award in future years.”

Two terminal companies that demonstrated an exemplary safety culture earned ILTA’s highest honor—the 2014 Platinum Safety Award. CITGO Petroleum Corporation received the large company award, and the small company award went to Blackwater Midstream Corporation.

Safety Excellence Awards went to 14 companies that achieved a safety record of less than one injury per 100 workers in 2013. The companies honored were: Benchmark River and Rail Terminals, Buckeye Terminals, Demaco Terminal Operations, Enterprise Products Company, Flint Hills Resources, Intercontinental Terminals Company, LBC Houston, Marathon Petroleum Company, NuStar Energy, Petro-Diamond Terminal Company, Phillips 66 Company, Tesoro Logistics, US Venture, and Vecenergy.

US Venture also received ILTA’s Five-Year Safety Milestone Award for achieving and maintaining safety excellence for every year since 2009. Vopak Americas earned a Safety Improvement Award for consistent safety improvement for three consecutive years.

Award recipients were selected from among the 39 companies that participated in ILTA’s Survey of Terminal Member Safety Data for 2013. All survey participants received a summary report containing safety performance data that can be used to benchmark against others in the terminal industry.

The trade show held June 3-4 in the George R Brown Convention Center grew by 13% over the previous year. More than 340 vendors exhibited at the trade show, marking the most in the history of the event.

The 35th Annual ILTA International Operating Conference and Trade Show are planned for June 1-3, 2015 at the George R Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas.  ♦

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