Three researchers from the Centre for Marine Biodiversity and Biotechnology (CMBB) gave presentations at the Oil & Gas UK Environmental Seminar. This year's topical themes brought together a varied group of professionals and specialists to share their experience and knowledge from environmental monitoring and data management, through to the implications of the EU Offshore Safety Directive and oil spill response to a diverse audience of 140 delegates from industry, regulators, NGOs and academia.
The Oil & Gas UK Environmental Seminar is the industry's premier annual environmental management event where industry representatives gather to discuss the challenges facing their industry.
Professor Murray Roberts presented an overview of the extensive project portfolio developing within the CMBB, including recently awarded deep-water projects to collate NERC and industry data along the Atlantic margins (NERC Oil & Gas Innovation grant) and a four-year study examining the environmental sensitivity of deep-water sponges west of Shetland (NERC Oil & Gas CDT with ancillary grant from Oil & Gas UK).
His talk also highlighted the University's new partnership with the British Geological Survey (BGS) which has led to the creation of the Lyell Centre for Earth and Marine Science and Technology due to open in early 2016.
NERC Knowledge Exchange Fellow Dr Kate Gormley presented the NERC-Catalyst project North Sea Interactive with the project's outputs distributed to delegates on memory sticks.
Dr Tony Gutierrez is the UK's leading expert on the microbial response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. He provided details of his extensive work on oil-degrading microbes and his application of sophisticated molecular techniques that had uncovered a more complete understanding of bacterial species that played an important role in the biodegradation of the Macondo oil, as well as his research on the discovery of new oil-degrading species in the ocean.
Dr Gutierrez said, "A great deal has been learned from the Deepwater Horizon spill, but it also highlighted the extent of our ignorance and the need to better understand oil behaviour in the deep sea, its effect on subsurface ecosystems, and the importance of developing response strategies for spilled oil in deep water provinces. This is particularly relevant now and in the future for regions of the North Atlantic and Arctic which are fertile ground for oil exploration."
Professor Murray Roberts said, "We are delighted to have ramped up the University's environmental work with the oil and gas industry. Heriot-Watt has been a trusted provider of impartial scientific advice to the industry since the 1970s. In just over a year, our 2013 proposal to NERC's Catalyst grant round has led to three RCUK awards and a growing network of collaborators at our project partners, the BGS and the National Oceanography Centre."
Further information on these projects can be found here