Heriot-Watt led CDT secures GBP 2.5 million from NEO Energy for low carbon transition work



The UK's leading training and research body for the energy industry will increase its focus on decarbonisation now that it has secured its future with £2.5million of funding from NEO Energy (NEO), an independent upstream UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) focused energy company.

The Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Geoscience and the Low Carbon Energy Transition follows the success of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) CDT model and will be a collaboration between UK higher education partners, research institutions and industry partners. 

Led by Professor John Underhill, Professor of Exploration Geoscience at Heriot-Watt , the CDT has 128 PhD students whose expertise can be used across the energy and environmental sectors. 

The funding from NEO will begin in 2020 and will secure the CDT for seven years, as well as provide the opportunity to refine its research and training themes.

The new projects will focus on understanding the geology of the UK continental shelf (UKCS) and finding solutions to our energy challenges.

Professor John Underhill said: “The £2.5 million award is a massive endorsement of the CDT and underlines its success, value and relevance to the geoscience community, academia, industry and government.

“Extending the scope of the CDT to tackle the challenge of sustainable resource management and the crucial role the subsurface will play in the low-carbon energy transition is a natural evolution.

“The research undertaken will cover the full spectrum of topics from carbon storage and geothermal energy to sustainable oil and gas resource management.

“The energy industry's continued financial support for the CDT's Training Academy demonstrates the importance it places on students having specialist, in-depth knowledge and the right technical skill sets to understand and manage the subsurface.”

Glenn Corrie, CEO at NEO Energy, said: “We are proud to invest £2.5million in the CDT, which has been a tremendous success to date. 

“At NEO, we are committed to training and nurturing new talent so that a stream of highly-capable professionals continue to enter our industry. 

“It is important that we take advantage of the opportunities that the low-carbon energy transition presents as we continue to meet the challenges of this rapidly changing environment.

“Supporting initiatives like this is vital in securing the long-term future of mature basins, such as the UKCS, and the CDT is a unique, vital organisation that benefits academia, the energy industry and environmental science across the UK and beyond.” 

Dr Nick Richardson, Head of Exploration and New Ventures at the Oil & Gas Authority, said: “Meeting the UK Government's target of Net Zero Carbon Emissions by 2050 is critically dependent on anchoring a world-class geoscience skills base in the UK, which is particularly vital to the success of carbon storage projects.

“The CDT has an established track record in developing talented graduates that will underpin the diversification and integration required by industry as society transitions to a low-carbon future.” 

The previous CDT has been funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) since 2014 and represented a £3million investment. 

A further £10 million was raised from government, higher education, research centre and eight industry partners: BP, Cairn Energy, ConocoPhillips, Equinor, ExxonMobil, Shell, Total and Verus Petroleum (now NEO Energy) to support the PhD research and training academy. 

For more information, visit: https://www.nerc-cdt-oil-and-gas.ac.uk/