Media Release: Producing the next generation of skilled oil and gas trainees


A £9m Centre for Doctoral Training, which combines the very best of academic and industrial expertise to train the next generation of top-level geoscience and environmental researchers in oil and gas, has been officially launched at Heriot-Watt University’s Edinburgh Campus by Stuart Edwards, deputy director (materials and resource industries) at the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills.

The Centre, which involves seventeen UK universities, the British Geological Survey, the National Oceanographic Centre and nine sponsor companies,  is a £9M investment funded by £2.7m from NERC, £5.3m from the host higher education institutions and with over £1m already pledged by the nine industry sponsor companies.

The CDT affords the opportunity for postgraduate students to base their studies at their respective institutions but spend periods during their three year PhD courses undertaking bespoke modules delivered by academic and industry experts as part of an unique training academy.

The first cohort of 29 students will rise to 93 over the next two years, with the aim of achieving gender equality.

The launch will introduce the first PhD cohort to the energy challenges facing society and include a series of talks from key academics and industry representatives, after which the students will undertake two weeks of residential study.

Professor John Underhill,  academic lead for the NERC CDT in Oil and Gas, and Shell Professor of Exploration Geoscience at Heriot-Watt University, said: “I am delighted that the vision for training and research encapsulated by the CDT in oil and gas has been supported and endorsed by the Research Council, government, industry and academics alike.

“It provides a unique opportunity to undertake and contextualise oil and gas research and training to address the energy challenge to keep the lights on whilst respecting and addressing any environmental impact it has.”

Keith Gerdes, chair of NERC’s advisory board and American Association of Petroleum Geologists’ European Region President, added: “The CDT is a truly game-changing initiative, which represents the most exciting development in the provision of training the energy industry in the UK that has occurred in my career.”

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