Overview of the 31st European Regional Education Group Conference

The Renaissance Barcelona welcomed 98 IECA delegates for the 31st Annual Conference. The event began with dedicated welcome drinks for our newest members and first-time attendees hosted by the European Membership Sub-Committee.

Delegates were treated to a rooftop vista of Barcelona as the venue for the Welcome Cocktail Event, supported by Reed Smith LLP and Cubelogic. Barcelona was chosen for its almost guaranteed good weather and we weren't disappointed.

As the conference kicked-off, we were delighted by Kyri Evagora’s (Partner at Reed Smith and IECA European Committee Member) interview and discussion with the Right Honourable Baroness Ash-ton of Upholland GCMG PC or Cathy, as she likes to be known.  From the immediate and continued feedback, this session was a firm favourite. It was certainly a unique and memorable experience being guided through just some of Cathy’s life tapestry by Kyri’s expert questioning. Cathy provided the audience with first-hand insight into her varied and eventful life in negotiation and politics, challenges she has overcome, and management of civil unrest, all of which left the audience in awe of her sheer capability.

Nicola Hammond presented the next session on Compliance and led us through the pressing and relevant issues affecting KYC issues within organisations, particularly bribery and corruption and the wider influence these items have in connection with organized crime and terrorism.

First-time speaker, Leigh Hansson, and the familiar Brett Hillis, both of Reed Smith, directed us through an update and explanation of the pressing issues of Trade & Economic Sanctions.  Their update couldn’t have been more relevant since major changes to sanctions were communicated only days prior to their appearance. Leigh and Brett were quick to adapt their already informative discussion, thus ensuring IECA delegates were armed with the most recent and readily available information.

Long-standing IECA member and frequent speaker Paul Sinnott, Partner, Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP, delivered a packed presentation on Set-Off and Netting in the Energy Markets, cementing his key points with energy and commodity trading relatable examples.

After lunch in the Cru Restaurant, courtesy of BP Oil International and Castleton Commodities International LLC, Patrick Heather, a former trader and senior research fellow and an internationally recognized expert in the development of Traded Gas Markets, gave an insightful commercial view on Evolution and Development of Gas Hub Activities in Europe.

In a later session, the importance of covering all bases of Risk Management was detailed to delegates by Giorgio Baldassarri of S&P Global Market Intelligence, who guided us through Credit Risk and Recent Trends in Utility Markets. Stanislav Shcheredin of PWC then looked at the wider topic of Enterprise Risk in Banks and Corporates.

As the first day drew to a close, Chris Weafer, founding Partner of Macro-Advisory Ltd, provided a valuable first-hand analysis of complicated geographical areas of interest. Chris is a highly recognised strategist and drew on his knowledge and experience of working in Russia and the CIS to provide delegates with a highly relevant and topical presentation on the Economic and Political Update, focusing on China, Iran, US, and Russia amongst others.

The Chairman’s Gala Dinner took place in the Fairmont Rey Juan Carlos 1 Hotel after a much enjoyed welcome reception of fine wines and exceptional canapés, sponsored by Gazprom Marketing & Trading Ltd. Dinner in the ‘Salon Azul’ was then sponsored by S&P Global Market Intelligence. The IECA European Committee and Sub-Committees, through the continued support from members, delegates, and sponsors, remain committed to raising funds for the IECA Educational Scholarship at our events.  This year, a charity auction commanded by the energetic Claude Brown (Partner at ReedSmith LLP) raised a total of £1,411. In addition, generous personal and corporate donations raised the grand total to approximately £5,500.

On Tuesday morning, Keynote speaker, Saad Rahim, Chief Economist from Trafigura, delivered an engaging presentation on the Outlook for Oil in 2017, including detailed explanations accompanied by a variety of relevant graph-based slides.

Robert Finney, Partner at Holman Fenwick Williams LLP, is regularly responsible for bringing delegates up-to-speed on the impact of financial and energy regulation, and in this year’s session, he particularised many aspects of forthcoming MiFID II, ahead of its imminent arrival in January 2018.

Jeremy Berry, Global Business Development Director of Gaffney, Cline and Associates, made a memorable debut appearance, where he successfully managed in the short space 40 minutes to leave all delegates better educated on reservoir engineering and the challenges faced in the Exploration & Production of Oil, Gas and Shale.

The conference was rounded out with a panel discussion on Electronic Documentation, Blockchain, Technology and Innovation, ably moderated by Claude Brown from Reed Smith. A hot topic globally, it was no surprise that there was a reasonable amount of debate around the validity of these advancements in the Energy and Commodity markets. With varied expertise on the panel, including Marion Murphy, Head of Credit Operations at BP Oil International, Alexander Goulandris, CEO at essDOCS, and Stuart McClymont, MD at Base60, JDX Consulting, combined with an interactive audience, delegates were left with plenty of views to consider on a topic likely to carry degrees of controversy for quite some time.

The conference was concluded with a closing lunch in the Cru Restaurant sponsored by Concord Energy Holdings LLC, TOTSA Total Oil Trading SA and Infospectrum Ltd, giving delegates that final chance to conduct the valuable and unrivalled networking for which the IECA European conference is renowned.

On behalf of the European Committee and Sub-Committees we extend our thanks to each and every speaker, sponsor and delegate who made the 31st IECA European Regional Education Group Conference of 2017 such a success.