Centre for Doctoral Training in Oil and Gas welcomes £1m industry investment

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Posted on 15 July 2014

Six of the oil industry’s biggest names have confirmed additional funding support for the new Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Oil and Gas, of which Keele University is a partner.

BP, Shell, BG, ConocoPhillips, E.ON and Total have together pledged more than £1 million to underpin a Training Academy for 90 PhD students over the next six years. This brings the total funding for the Centre, which is led by Heriot-Watt University, to more than £9 million. The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) has allocated £2.7 million to the centre and the remaining £5.2 million will come from the Centre’s academic and affiliated partners over the next six years.

The former Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts said, "The shared funding from industry and government that is going into this centre will nurture a future generation of experts to provide technical and intellectual leadership for decades to come in one of the UK's great industries. It is an excellent example of how our industrial strategy is helping industry and government to work together and align research investment with priorities for economic growth. I am delighted that businesses are supporting the new centre so strongly, it is a vote of confidence in how the consortium led by Heriot-Watt, with support from the Natural Environment Research Council, have designed the programme."

Dr Stu Clarke, head of the Basin Dynamics Research Group and Keele’s academic lead for the CDT said “This is an excellent opportunity to deliver high-end, collaborative research in all aspects of hydrocarbons, and to provide highly skilled and well-trained individuals for the energy industry. The highly collaborative CDT is perfectly placed to do so, and the financial commitment from the industry reflects this. We at Keele are very happy to be playing a role in developing this concept.” 

Professor Mark Ormerod, Keele’s Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise) said, “We are delighted to be a partner in the new Oil and Gas CDT.  At Keele, we are very committed to high quality research partnerships and strong engagement and collaboration with business and industry is a key priority, and the new CDT provides a superb example of this, with such strong support from major industry.  The Centre will provide the breadth of world-class research to tackle some of the major challenges facing the energy sector, and will give students the knowledge and skills to become leaders in this hugely important sector”

Heriot-Watt’s Professor John Underhill, who holds the position of Shell Chair of Exploration Geoscience, will lead the new centre. He said, “The level of company investment underlines the support for the CDT in general, the special importance that industry attaches to the Training Academy in particular and highlights the need for doctoral oil and gas research studies to be placed in their broader context.”

Filling the skills gaps in the industry

The Centre 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 meet the future challenges of energy security.

The European President of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG), Dr Keith Gerdes of Shell will chair the Industrial Advisory Board of the CDT on behalf of NERC. He said, “This Centre is a truly game-changing initiative and represents the most exciting development in the provision of training for the energy industry in the UK that has occurred during my career.

“The consortium of universities led by Heriot-Watt includes major UK providers of world-class teaching and research in petroleum geoscience and related subjects. The collegiate structure and inclusive nature which is at the heart of this construct is extremely attractive to many members of the industry and will create a ‘one stop shop’ for industry and academic engagement for both research and recruitment.

“I am delighted to be involved in such an innovative, student-centric project designed to attract and train top postgraduate talent for the future energy industry.”

Of the Centre’s 90 postgraduate students, 30 will be funded by NERC. All of its students will benefit from being embedded alongside world-class researchers and industry partners in the form of placements, mentoring, facilities and equipment.

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

For further information on Keele’s involvement in the NERC CDT for Oil and Gas please visit the Basin Dynamics Research Group webpages: http://www.keele.ac.uk/bdrg/nerccdtoilgas/