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Event Review: ILTA 2024

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Picture of Anamika Talwaria

Anamika Talwaria

Editor & Head of Content for Tank Storage Magazine & StocExpo and Chair of Women in Tanks.
Empty chairs set out ready for a conference with blue lighting

On 6-8 May 2024, the bulk liquid industry gathered in Houston, Texas, to enjoy the ILTA’s three-day conference and trade show. Packed with insightful presentations, tech innovations and challenging discussions, this was a show not to miss.

 

Keynote speakers

Kicking off the ILTA’s 50th birthday celebration at the conference and trade show, former US President George W Bush joined ILTA chairman Pratt Summers for an intimate fireside chat. With the conversation spanning energy policy today, Bush’s presidency and his childhood, ILTA members and attendees were given a new glimpse and different perspective into the former president.

While 9/11 was clearly a defining moment in Bush’s presidency, the highlight was clearly Bush’s estimation of other world leaders from his G8 summit – many of whom probably aren’t known by the majority of today’s workforce. In fact, Jason Dorsey (back at the ILTA by popular demand) touched on this in his keynote discussion; which president was the first that people could remember? As expected, lots of the room recalled Reagan being in office, but a selection of Millennials and Gen Z in the room called out for Bush – showing how much the younger generations are creeping into the workplace.

In fact, Gen Z are the fastest-growing group in the workforce, with Millennials currently making up the largest proportion – and the generations have more in common than we all think! While Millennials are experiencing ‘delayed adulthood’ according to Dorsey, Gen X are moving into a new stage of adulthood – deciding where to finish their career. And while these seem like vastly different stages, both are important financial and wellbeing decisions – the generations are looking for a stable future and financial stability. But it’s important to retain both.

Similarly, Boomers and Gen Z prioritise company stability – but longevity doesn’t mean much to Gen Z. This newer generation looks for company values and ideals over ‘number of years in business’ – a stark change to older generations.

On day two, Kelly Murray delved into digitalisation and cybersecurity, in light of CFATS expiration. Her presentation looked at the global chemical threat landscape and its impact on critical infrastructure security, prompting another generational thought – are Millennials tech-savvy or tech-dependent? The answer: we all just want things to work, and work safely and efficiently.
But the crux of all keynotes? Optimism. In light of a challenging geopolitical landscape and the energy transition, the workforce (and people as a whole) must remember their similarities, rather than only taking stock of our differences.

 

Technical conference sessions

This first set of conference sessions included an update on EPA rule changes for gasoline distribution. Featuring Harold Laurence at Trinity Consultants, Arron Civera from Kinder Morgan and Brian Sweeley at Marathon Petroleum Company, this highly technical session was well-attended and centred on the changes to VCU monitoring, VRUs and downtime, challenges of LDAR and changes to IFR LEL monitoring.

A key session was the ILTA’s Chairman Roundtable, which looked at a number of topics in the oil and gas sector, including the future of work, the industry itself and the impact of the energy transition. All panellists agreed that more engagement with the wider public is required to ensure the tank storage industry has an improved reputation. Rather than only speaking with friendly groups and at in-industry conferences, terminals must go further out to market to educate the wider public on the industry – and hopefully widen the workforce pool.

Tank storage is naturally at the forefront of the energy transition – after all, the transferrable skills are all in this industry. But marketing this is key – both to combat the ageing workforce and bring in new workers, but also to encourage the uptake of future fuels. Storage customers are unsure of what exactly they’ll be storing or blending going forward, so it’s tricky to push any one fuel over the other. But it’s important to remember that tank terminals are adaptable, so this transition should be seen as an opportunity. In the end, knowledge-sharing at events such as ILTA and StocExpo is truly key.

 

Knowledge-sharing & networking

Connecting with the community is a key element of any conference and trade show – and the ILTA provided plenty of opportunities. The Women in Terminals networking reception was a fun and casual way to champion the growing numbers of women entering the industry. Likewise, Tank Storage Magazine is constantly sharing Women in Tanks stories across our publication.

Exhibitors also held networking receptions and gatherings to bring the industry together and help foster new relationships. Zeeco and Matrix both made use of the Marriott Marquis’ many function spaces to entertain clients and colleagues. But with all this in mind, there’s nothing like seeing new products and demonstrations on the show floor – and the ILTA’s two-day trade show delivered this. With over 300 exhibitors on site, there was no shortage of people to meet and solutions to discuss. With next year’s dates already locked in, this is an event you won’t want to miss.

For more information:

Save the date for ILTA’s 2025 conference and trade show on 9-11 June at the Marriott Marquis and George R Brown Convention Centre in Houston, Texas, USA.

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