24/06/2014 - 10:35

Energy trainer seeks national alliance

24/06/2014 - 10:35

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FEATURE: The state’s premier oil and gas training institute has joined forces with Northern Territory-based Charles Darwin University in the search for a training provider to tackle a looming oil and gas skills shortage.

The state’s premier oil and gas training institute has joined forces with Northern Territory-based Charles Darwin University in the search for a training provider to tackle a looming oil and gas skills shortage.

Australian Centre for Energy Process Training chairman and former Woodside Petroleum executive, Keith Spence, said ACEPT and Charles Darwin’s Northern Australian Centre for Oil and Gas were seeking to team up with an east coast-based training provider, possibly in Gladstone, Queensland.

“There’s (the) beginnings if you like of an Australian centre for processing which is going to be a partnership,” Mr Spence said.

“We’re not quite sure who is going to step up (on the east coast), but between those three we want to try and set up a virtual centre which would have a whole lot of things in common.

“They’d share curriculum up to a certain level, they’d have common standards.

“One centre, for example, would be really strong in coal seam gas, another centre might be really strong in LNG, while another might be strong in drilling.

“Rather than duplicating at the higher level qualifications, we’d have specialties in each of these three; but when you put the three together you’d actually see the whole spectrum covered.”

ACEPT is also garnering the support of major oil and gas producers and service providers for the partnership.

It is helped in its efforts by having Apache Energy, Clough, Woodside Petroleum, Shell and Inpex representatives on its board.

Last month, Business News reported that Australia would need to train and bring in overseas workers to build an oil and gas workforce from 3,900 today to around 60,000 over the next 10 years.

Mr Spence said WA was leading the way in delivering training, despite being faced with several obstacles.

“Things are starting to come together … there’s a commitment to training, but to train people you need the facilities to train them on and you can’t train them on it until you build it,” Mr Spence told Business News.

While ACEPT has been very busy in recent times, offering classes on Saturdays and at night to keep up with demand, a $15 million commitment in the state budget will help double its capacity and improve its engineering training capabilities.

How to transition people from the slowing mining sector into the burgeoning oil and gas industry is also being explored as a way to reduce the skills shortage.

Australian Drilling Industry Training Committee chief executive Virginia Hilliard said while workers from minerals and mining backgrounds brought relevant skills, the transition so far had been piecemeal.

“It’s actually been a common enough move in the past on an individual scale … but not on any sort of systematic industry wide scale,” Ms Hilliard said.

“Those of us who work in either associations or industry bodies that deal across both sectors can see it as an opportunity that perhaps oil (and) gas is not taking up as readily as they could.”

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