Last week I had the pleasure of visiting the historical city of London and attending International Petroleum (IP) Week with ZE’s Director of European Markets, Ian Gordon. The event was held at the Park Plaza Riverbank situated in central London.  IP Week is a globally recognized event that brings together over 1000 participants from the global energy space.  This year’s conference had a record number of delegates and was the most successful in the history of IP Week.  Oil traders, energy brokers, senior management and decision makers from the world’s largest oil companies traveled from the United States, Canada, Russia, the Middle East, Africa and Asia to take part in the conference and festivities.  ZE has a special interest in IP Week because the event has provided us with an opportunity to share our enterprise data management solution, ZEMA, and our European expansion plans, with companies from all corners of the world.  This year we had an opportunity to set up an exhibit that enabled us to demonstrate ZEMA to a number of companies and engage in many stimulating conversations.

One of the highlights of IP Week is the lively discussions in open forums, where one is able to quickly sense the global sentiment of the future of energy markets.  The primary feeling this year was of uncertainty and trepidation about the recession in the global economy, political tension and civil uprisings of the Arab Spring, the rise in resource consumption by India and China, and a feared pending financial collapse in a number of European countries.  It is clear that it is unclear who is leading the fray and who is dominant. Whereas in the past many market participants would point to the West as the innovation leaders in energy markets, this is not so apparent anymore, and people are searching for a source of leadership.  The discussions at IP Week reinforced the belief that although there are still new sources of innovation, the depth of uncertainty in the market makes it difficult for parties to find real focus and move forward with confidence.

A number of ancillary sessions also ran in conjunction with IP Week, and we were fortunate to attend many of them.  Platts held a highly attended complimentary London Oil Forum, which provided an excellent overview of key oil market developments and initiatives in 2012.  Similarly, Argus Media held a well-received Crude and Products Forum, which offered engaging discussions about the search for a robust benchmark in Asia, and the outlook for European products markets.  It is clear from the media presentations of Platts and Argus that these providers have a keen sense of the market’s needs, and that these companies are moving in a positive direction.

In addition to the forums, we had an opportunity to network at a number of social events, including the CME Group Reception at Bond Club, the Allegro ETRM Reception at the London Hilton on Park Lane and the ICE Reception at the elegant Gloucester Hotel.  On Wednesday evening, we were fortunate to attend IP Week’s grand banquet, also held at Gloucester Hotel, which hosted over 1200 attendees dressed quite regally, with men in tuxedos and women in elegant party dresses.  There was also a fair splash of gentlemen that stood out in the crowd, dressed in traditional Scottish kilts.  According to myth, the front apron of a kilt was left unfastened owing to tradition, until a visit by Queen Victoria and a healthy gust of wind changed the course of history, and hence the addition of the kilt pin to hold the garment in place.  On a more serious note, all hosting parties were very generous, and we were pleased to have been able to visit with a number of new and old friends from our partner organizations, including Opportune, Allegro, Platts, Argus Media and IIR Energy, to name a few.

If you did not have the opportunity to attend IP Week this year, I strongly recommend that you mark your calendar for 2013’s event.  We look forward to seeing all our friends again next year.