By Émer O’Toole, News Editor
The first national UK shale colleges will be linked to five institutions across the UK, including the Weir Advanced Research Centre at Strathclyde.
The National College for Onshore Oil and Gas, based in Blackpool, has been given the go-ahead by Business, Enterprise and Energy Minister Matthew Hancock MP.
The new centres of excellence will train the next generation of onshore oil and gas specialists, allowing Britain to make the most of economic opportunities offered by natural shale gas.
Dr Simon Puttock, Director of the University of Strathclyde Oil and Gas Institute, said the University “is a centre of expertise for hydraulic fracturing pump design, developed through many years of collaboration with the Weir Group PLC – the world’s largest supplier of hydraulic fracturing pressure pumping equipment.”
Speaking at the college headquarters at Blackpool, Hancock added: “Shale gas is an enormous opportunity for the UK and one that we simply can’t afford to miss out on.
“Imagine if we had passed up a similar opportunity to go into the North Sea some fifty years ago. What if we’d let that oil and gas stay in the ground? What if we’d said it was too difficult or too controversial?
“The whole country would be poorer, finance would account for an even greater share of our economy; I am not prepared to pass up a once-in-a-generation economic opportunity, with the potential for industry to invest up to £33 billion in the next 15 years or so.”
He concluded by saying that the shale and gas industry is expected to create around 64, 500 jobs.
Industry group the United Kingdom Onshore Oil and Gas (UKOOG) led the bid to set up the college.
These colleges will ensure that students achieve the high level specialist training to meet the current and future needs of the industry, to keep the UK ahead of the competition in drilling, hydraulic fracturing, site development and environmental management.
Further capital funding will be available from the National College programme to support the college on an industry-matched investment basis.