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Coronavirus cancels chemical events

Petrochemical and pharma meeting organizers say travel was becoming too difficult; ACS spring meeting is still on

by Alexander H. Tullo
March 2, 2020


Two men stand behind a sign imploring Pittcon attendees not to shake hands.
Credit: Craig Bettenhausen/C&EN
LGC Standards cut its staff at Pittcon from 20 to 8 amid coronavirus worries.

The threat of the coronavirus is disrupting the spring meeting season across the chemical enterprise. IHS Markit has canceled its World Petrochemical Conference, scheduled for March 24–27 in New Orleans, and its CERAWeek oil and gas conference in Houston, set for March 9–13. The pharmaceutical services trade show CPhI Japan was postponed, and the American Physical Society canceled its March meeting.

IHS says it decided on the cancellations after consulting with public health officials and taking into account the growing number of company travel restrictions and border health checks attendees would have to contend with. “We wanted to provide as much notice as possible,” IHS said in a statement about the World Petrochemical Conference.

The petrochemical conference drew 1,500 attendees when it was held in San Antonio last year, and organizers were expecting 1,800 for the New Orleans gathering. CERAWeek drew 5,500 in Houston last year.

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IHS also canceled a transportation event in Long Beach, California, scheduled for this week. Cutting the three conferences as well as some smaller events will cost the company about $50 million in revenue, it says.

CPhI Japan was scheduled for Tokyo for March 16–18. That conference drew 550 exhibitors and 20,000 attendees last year, 83% of whom came from Asia.

“Many felt that it will be difficult to travel to the exhibition at this time,” Christopher Eve, managing director for organizers Informa Markets and UBM Japan, said in a statement.

And the American Physical Society’s meeting slated for this week in Denver was abruptly canceled on March 1, a day before the event was to begin. The APS says it will offer a full refund of registration fees. “The situation with hotels is more complicated,” it says on its website, “and we ask your forbearance as APS looks into what is possible regarding hotel cancellation fees.”

Not every event is off. Pittcon, a large scientific instrumentation trade show, is happening this week in Chicago. Organizers have placed hand sanitizer stations throughout the McCormick Place venue.

And the ACS National Meeting, scheduled for March 22–26 in Philadelphia, is going ahead, organizers say. ACS publishes C&EN. “At this time, plans are still underway for the meeting to run as scheduled,” says Susan R. Morrissey, the ACS’s director of communications. “The Pennsylvania Convention Center and our meeting hotels are all operating normally. ACS will continue to monitor this situation daily.”


This story was updated on March 3, 2020, to make clear that ACS publishes C&EN.



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