Scottish Daily Mail

A degree to know the drill for end of oil

- By Xantha Leatham

FIFTEEN years ago, bagging a job in Scotland’s booming oil sector would have been hailed as a wise career choice.

But oil reserves in the North Sea are dropping so drasticall­y that experts predict the industry has just 40 years left.

Universiti­es are now looking to introduce courses tailored towards the inevitable and graduates can sign up for the UK’s first master’s degree in decommissi­oning oil platforms.

The programme, thought to be the first of its kind in the world, is part of a joint partnershi­p between the University of Aberdeen and Robert Gordon University.

It will focus on key aspects of decommissi­oning, such as engineerin­g, project management, business, law and health, safety and environmen­t.

Professor Ekaterina Pavlovskai­a, from the University of Aberdeen’s School of Engineerin­g, said: ‘The climate is right for us to launch this innovative master’s degree. Some may ask if this signifies an acceptance that oil and gas is coming to an end in the North Sea but that is not the case. Safe and efficient decommissi­oning of these platforms will benefit the industry for many years to come.’

The degree is being developed with industry experts and is expected to appeal to those already in the oil industry, or who want to upskill or retrain. It is due to begin next September.

Professor Ferdinand von Prondzynsk­i, principal and vice-chancellor of Robert Gordon University, said: ‘It is increasing­ly clear that there is a need for offshore decommissi­oning in the North Sea.

‘It is important that we harness the opportunit­ies presented by this trend, ensuring that there is a pool of trained talent available for the evolving needs of the industry.’

Richard Neilson, an engineerin­g expert and director of research for the College of Physical Sciences at the University of Aberdeen, said the institutio­n was ‘looking at where the demands are in terms of training’.

He added: ‘It is estimated that £40billion will be spent on decommissi­oning projects over the next 40 years.

‘We are looking at a wide potential pool of students and in Aberdeen we are very well placed to run the course as we have already been doing research into this field.’

The announceme­nt comes after the decision to delay the removal of the Brent Delta platform off Shetland by a year.

Last week, Dundee port manager David Webster said decommissi­oning was set to bring about 1,500 jobs to the city over the next three to four years.

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