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Durham University

Centre for Resources and Earth Energy Systems (CeREES)



New Oil and Gas training centre supports growth with responsible environmental management in energy sector

(2 December 2013)

Durham University is a core partner in a new £8m training centre aimed at helping the oil and gas sector put environmental science at the heart of responsible management of the planet. The new Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT), funded by NERC and led by Heriot-Watt University, will focus on creating a highly skilled workforce with expertise that can be used across the wider energy and environmental sectors, as well as filling skills gaps in the oil and gas sector. Prof Aplin of CeREES is Durham’s academic lead for the CDT.

As well as NERC’s £2.8m investment, the consortium has already committed to invest £5.2m. NERC is expecting to leverage up to four times its investment from overseas universities and institutions, and business.

The CDT will support a minimum of 90 postgraduate students, 30 of whom will be funded by NERC, all of whom will benefit from being embedded alongside world-class researchers and industry partners in the form of placements, mentoring, facilities and equipment. CeREES will coordinate the Durham based training.

The Centre consists of seven core partners (Aberdeen, Durham, Heriot-Watt, Imperial College, Manchester and Oxford universities and the British Geological Survey) and a further 12 associate partners (Birmingham, Camborne, Cardiff, Dundee, Glasgow, Keele, National Oceanographic Centre (NOC), Newcastle, Nottingham, Royal Holloway, Southampton & Strathclyde).

In addition to undertaking scientifically challenging research, each cohort of CDT students will receive 20 weeks of bespoke residential training. This which will introduce them to the technical, economic and societal issues surrounding oil and gas, equipping them for future careers in industry, universities and the public sector.

Professor Andrew Aplin said: “It is very pleasing that Durham will be at the heart of this new and inclusive initiative which will provide the highest level of training for the next generation of geoscientific and environmental PhD researchers for the UK’s oil and gas sector. The award is another indication of Durham’s interdisciplinary strength in energy and environmental research and will help develop our international position in this important sector”.

Professor Duncan Wingham, chief executive of NERC, said: “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.”

Universities and 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.”

Read the NERC press release ‘NERC supports growth with responsible environmental management in energy sector’