THE role of natural gas in helping meet future energy needs will top the bill at an offshore industry conference.

Chemical company Ineos Group, which runs factories in the North-East, will unveil its plans on the potential of UK shale gas at a NOF Energy conference next month.

Tom Crotty, Ineos director, will speak to delegates about the company’s approach to the development of shale gas and how it can deliver opportunities for supply chain firms.

Ineos, which has plants in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, and Seal Sands, near Middlesbrough, has strengthened its offshore sector standing after taking on all of German-based DEA Group’s North Sea gas fields, which provide about eight per cent of the UK’s gas supply.

Mr Crotty said it was important operators and the supply chain improve their relationship, particularly at a time when the oil price remains precariously low.

Ineos’ plans will be revealed at NOF’s, Energy: A Balanced Future, conference, which will see more than 400 delegates gather at Sage Gateshead to discuss challenges facing the industry.

George Rafferty, chief executive at offshore support organisation NOF, which has a base near Durham City, added: “The energy industry is undergoing a significant transformation, which will require operators and contractors to examine and re-evaluate current practices.

“This need for change, exacerbated by low oil prices makes this year’s conference all the more important.”

The conference takes place on Tuesday, March 8, and Wednesday, March 9, and will include speakers from companies such as Amec Foster Wheeler, which has offices in Darlington.

To register as a delegate or book exhibition space, contact Sophie Palleschi on 0191-384-6464 or email