The helium market, dry ice applications and dangerous goods are just three of the topics set to be discussed at the British Compressed Gases Association (BCGA) Annual Conference in April.

To be held at the Marriott Hotel & Country Club, Worsley Park in Manchester on 23rd April, the conference will feature a wide-ranging programme of speakers and papers covering different areas of the industry including modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) gases, food and plastics and a helium market update. 

Insight into the transportation of goods from the Department for Transport is also included on the agenda and the conference concludes with keynote speaker Colin Maclachlan, a former SAS soldier with more than 25 years of security and risk related experiences, who has appeared on Channel 4’s SAS: Who Dares Wins and Channel 5’s Secrets of the SAS.

Other speakers include Martin Snape, EIGA SAC; Neil Hansford, Air Products; Phil Kornbluth, Kornbluth Helium Consulting; and John Raquet, Spiritus Consulting. Sponsored by gasworld, the conference also represents an opportunity for BCGA members, or non-members, to network with existing contacts and make new ones.

After 14 years at the helm of the BCGA, this conference will be the last for retiring Chief Executive Doug Thornton. The national trade body announced the news of his retirement in December (2019). The conference also offers, therefore, a chance to meet Thornton’s successor, Ellen Daniels.

Thornton commented, “We are looking forward to an insightful and informative conference in Manchester 2020.”

“The event continues to go from strength-to-strength, with excellent feedback from delegates. The BCGA conference committee has once again put together a highly-engaging and interesting event, of broad appeal to those in the gas industry and related sectors.”

Agenda in detail

After the customary opening from Tim Hulbert, BCGA President, and comprehensive technical committee report from Jake Lake, Peter Henrys will continue the BCGA introductions with an update on medical gases (TSC7).

The European Industrial Gases Association (EIGA) safety performance and activities of the Safety Advisory Council (SAC) will be discussed next by Martin Snape, Chair of EIGA SAC.

EIGA’s mission is very clear to maintain the highest standards of safety and concern for the environment at work and in the community together with providing authorities and standardisation bodies with expert advice on production, transport, storage and applications of industrial, medical and food gases.

Next, Liz Pringle, who has more than 30 years’ experience of working within the field of mental health and wellbeing, will speak about creating a mentally fit and healthy workplace, including why mental health is a corporate issue and why we should be mindful of mental health in the workplace.

Scott Maidman will then cover DI Global’s experience in developing and implementing a product and service offering based on maintenance applications for the offshore and marine industries. This pushes the boundaries of previous applications for dry ice, which to date have largely been restricted to light cleaning within the food, manufacturing and power sectors.

BCGA image 1

Source: BCGA

Developments to be discussed include: onsite production of dry ice; early challenges met and how they were overcome; advantages brought to the industry by using dry ice in a smart way; and future developments.

Helen North, Department for Transport (DfT) Dangerous Goods Division, will update on what changes have been taking place in the UK’s regulatory framework which governs the movement of dangerous goods and what members need to know to remain compliant.

Air Products’ Neil Hansford will discuss MAP gases, foods and plastics, with his presentation covering nitrogen, carbon dioxide and oxygen and the reasons why we use each of these gases or a combination of them to extend a products shelf life. Hansford’s presentation will also cover how using an essential oil aroma within a MAP gas mix can benefit a product and sometimes extend shelf life, how gases can reduce food and plastics waste and the reason why our food products need an ever-increasing shelf life.

Phil Kornbluth, of Kornbluth Helium Consulting, will take a look at helium market conditions and developments during the period leading up to the BCGA Conference, discuss the current balance between supply and demand and provide a forecast of market conditions during the next few years.

Kornbluth’s presentation will look at the causes of Helium Shortage 3.0 and identify the key events that will bring the market back into balance during 2020 and 2021, as well as offer a view as to whether helium markets will see continued volatility during the 2020’s.

The presentation will also discuss the coming privatisation of the US Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) helium assets, the increased interest in non-hydrocarbon sources of helium and other relevant topics.

Next, John Raquet, Spiritus Consulting, will predict where the industry is heading and what will be the drivers for growth over the next decade.  This will include thought-provoking subjects such as who will own the hydrogen supply chain to the hydrogen economy? Biogas and LNG – should we be a player? And carbon capture and sequestration – fake or real?

Thornton and Daniels will together co-present a brief review of the legacy Thornton leaves, and the vision Daniels presents for the future.

Delegates will then hear from keynote speaker Colin Maclachlan. A former SAS soldier with more than 25 years of security and risk related experience, Maclachlan has also appeared in Channel 4’s SAS: Who Dares Wins and Channel 5’s Secrets of the SAS.  

Maclachlan joined the army in 1989 and, following nine years in the Royal Scots, he passed for SAS selection first time.  He was fortunate enough to have been involved in some of the SAS’ more high-profile and daring missions of the recent period.

Only a handful of men have been involved in hostage negotiations, hostage rescue and have been a hostage themselves – and Maclachlan is one of them. He waded through swamps in Sierra Leone to hunt down the ‘West Side Boys‘, a guerrilla gang holding 11 British soldier’s hostage.

It was a mission so dangerous they nicknamed it Operation Certain Death – its real name was Operation Barras.