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Durham University

Durham Energy Institute

News

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 and DEI is Durham’s academic lead for the CDT.

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. This will equip the industry with the skills needed to reduce the environmental impact of oil and gas exploration and extraction. Professor Andrew Aplin of CeREES Centre for Geoenergy and DEI 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.”

 

The announcement follows Durham’s recent success in securing a share of £11.2 million to fund early career researchers in arts and humanities, a share of £5m to train PhD students in environmental and earth sciences and a CDT to train PhD students in Soft Matter and Functional Interfaces. It further consolidates Durham’s position as a leading research-intensive university.

Further information about NERC funding

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

NERC has also invested £800k in projects that will engage the oil and gas sector in developing existing partnerships and building new ones. Durham University’s CeREESwas successful in four projects:

  • CO2-EOR ranking and screening tool for estimating enhanced oil recovery using carbon dioxide (Dr Simon Mathias).
  • Squeezing the barrel: Knowledge exchange adds value to oilfields in decline (with BGS, Prof Jon Gluyas)
  • Jurassic shale analogue study: From resource to reserve (JARR) (with Newcastle, Dr Howard Armstrong)
  • Commercial development and application of the Re-Os geochronometer and tracer to petroleum systems (Dr David Selby)

In a connected initiative, NERC has invested £40k in an independent research consortium, which will focus on the issue of shale gas and oil exploitation using fracking methods and its potential risks. ReFINE, which is led by Durham Energy Institute, was launched at an event in London on 7 November 2013. NERC brings an independent perspective to the consortium, which includes funding from the oil and gas sector.

Further Information about CeREES

CeREES Centre for Geoenergy was founded in 2006, and is a part of the Durham Energy Institute. CeREES is the only research centre in the UK that works across all geoenergy themes, carrying out high level multidisciplinary research in Petroleum, Unconventional Hydrocarbons, Geothermal, Clean Coal, Resources from Waste and Carbon Capture and Storage.

CeREES links together research groups across Durham with appropriate institutions and organisations locally, nationally and internationally. It works in partnership with industry, research councils, and government to achieve internationally excellent and world leading research in Geoenergy. Find out more at www.dur.ac.uk/cerees