The UK’s first degree in decommissioning oil rigs and platforms has been launched in Aberdeen.
Officials behind the new Masters degree said it does not “signify acceptance that oil and gas is coming to an end in the North Sea”, stressing decommissioning presents “opportunities”.
Aberdeen University has teamed up with Robert Gordon University (RGU) to launch the new course, which will focus on key aspects of decommissioning such as engineering, project management, business, law, health and safety and environment.
A recent Oil & Gas UK report found 120,000 North Sea workers have been laid off in two years as the troubles continue in the industry following a collapse in the global oil price and plans for decommissioning some platforms are already under way.
The process of taking offshore oil rigs and platforms out of service safely is complex and there are legal and regulatory requirements as well as environmental considerations - highlighted when a decommissioned rig grounded on Lewis last month, sparking pollution fears.
Professor Ekaterina Pavlovskaia, from Aberdeen University’s School of Engineering, said: “The climate is right for us to launch this innovative Masters degree in decommissioning to educate the current and future workforce in this important area of the oil and gas lifecycle.
“Some may ask if this course 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.”
Aberdeen University principal Professor Sir Ian Diamond said the industry is “telling us that there is a need for more decommissioning expertise” and the new degree aims to meet that demand.
RGU principal Professor Ferdinand von Prondzynski said: “It is increasingly clear that there is a need for offshore decommissioning in the North Sea as many platforms approach the end of their operational life.
“Aberdeen is known for oil and gas expertise and 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.”
The course is due to begin in September 2017.