18717Former Secretary of State for Business, Lord Hutton of Furness, will lead a debate on the future of the energy sector in the North East in February.

With the landscape of the energy industry dramatically changing in recent months, most notably with the unprecedented drop in the oil price to around $30 a barrel, the sector is facing a variety of challenges.

The free-to-attend debate on 11 February at Wynyard Hall, organised by Square One Law in conjunction with Brewin Dolphin, KPMG, NOF Energy and Tees Valley Unlimited, will discuss theoutlook for the oil and gas market and the opportunities for the regional supply chain, which also include areas such as offshore renewables, North Sea decommissioning, nuclear and shale gas.

Lord Hutton, who served as Business Secretary in Gordon Brown’s cabinet between 2007 and 2008 and is currently Chairman of the Nuclear Industry Association will be joined on the panel by a group of energy industry specialists including Peter Stephenson from North East-based decommissioning and offshore renewables specialists, ABLE UK.

In addition, expert market knowledge will be offered by Alan Duncan from international energy industry consultancy BVG Associates. A view from the investment community will be provided by Gran Potter from private equity firm Blue Water Energy, which is involved in the oil and gas sector.

Also featuring on the panel will be Stephen Catchpole, Managing Director of Tees Valley Unlimited, the Local Enterprise Partnership for Tees Valley, and energy advisors including James Bryce from Square One Law and Elaine Coverley at Brewin Dolphin.

James Bryce, Partner at Square One Law, said: “The unpredictable oil and gas market, together with other issues such as uncertainty over renewables subsidies and the pace of the development of new nuclear offers an unclear future for the energy sector.

“This event will generate some lively debate about the future role of North East business in the sector from a panel with broad and detailed experience operating across the industry.”

“The North East has an exceptionally strong and diverse energy sector supply chain, which has to evolve to keep pace with the level of change required and we look forward to the contribution local companies will make during the debate.”

The Energy Debate: ‘What Does the Future Hold?’ takes place on 11 February from 8am-10.30am in the Grand Marquee at Wynyard Hall.

Places are free, but limited, and can be booked by emailing claire.watson@squareonelaw.com