Dundee named partner in £2.8 million oil and gas programme

Mike Brown
Dr Michael Brown

The University of Dundee’s Division of Civil Engineering has been named as an associate partner in a £2.8 million project providing training for the next generation of oil and gas industry leaders.

The University joins a consortium of seven core partners and 12 associate partners in the Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC) Centre for Doctoral Training in Oil & Gas programme. With investment from NERC and other sources, funding has been secured to guarantee 31 PhD places across the partner institutions in each of the next three years.

This new initiative provides an important new opportunity for academic training and research in oil and gas and represents the NERC’s largest investment to date in this area. The partnership is also seeking to develop a dialogue with industry that places the student experience at the heart of the programme. The PhD places will be aligned to four main themes – effective production of unconventional hydrocarbons , extending the life of mature basins, exploitation in challenging locations, and environmental impact and regulation.

Whilst the programme is geared towards research, the partnership has a graduate training academy embedded within the four-year PhD programme. The Dundee-based studentships will be related to assessing and mitigating the risks that natural hazards such as icebergs and earthquakes pose to production.

Dr Michael Brown, from the University’s Division of Civil Engineering, said:

“We are delighted to have been named a partner in this high-profile, prestigious consortium and this reflects the esteem which civil engineering education and research at Dundee is held in.

“The programme is geared towards serving the best interests of the UK as it faces up to current and future energy and environmental challenges, and we are looking forward to welcoming PhD students funded under this initiative who will make a real difference to the oil and gas industry.”

The centre will focus on creating a highly skilled workforce with expertise that can be used across the wider energy and environment sectors, as well as filling skills gaps in the oil and gas sector. This will equip the industry with the skills needed to reduce the environmental impact of oil and gas extraction.

The first intake of students will begin their work in October 2014 and will benefit from being embedded alongside world-class researchers and industry partners in the form of placements, mentoring, facilities and equipment. The first intake of students will begin their work in October 2014 and will benefit from being embedded alongside world-class researchers and industry partners in the form of placements, mentoring, facilities and equipment.

Universities & Science Minister David Willetts said: 

“Working alongside leading businesses in the oil and gas sector to improve our skills base is vital to the success of the government’s industrial strategy. NERC’s plans to develop a centre for doctoral training will support the growth of the UK’s offshore oil and gas resources and attract further overseas investment, keeping the UK ahead in the global race.”

Professor Duncan Wingham, chief executive of NERC, added: 

“Looking across the sectors that provide growth in the UK’s economy, and where a strong understanding of the environment is absolutely essential, it is hard to think of one where the need is higher than in oil and gas. It’s vital that NERC contributes to ensuring growth with responsible environmental management for the industry.”

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