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Foundation keeps oil and gas training afloat

TWO drivers of WA’s oil and gas industry have this week ensured the future of locally-based tertiary training for the sector.

Woodside Energy and Clough Engineering have joined together to establish a foundation supporting both undergraduate and post-graduate oil and gas programs at the University of Western Australia.

Known as the UWA Futures Foundation for Oil and Gas Education, the project will provide funding to the university’s Centre for Oil & Gas Engineering and Centre for Offshore Foundation Systems.

Woodside’s involvement with oil and gas training at UWA first began in 1994, with discussions that led to the Centre for Oil & Gas Engineering, a masters course and the Woodside chair in oil and gas engineering all established by the following year.

With the success of the centre, Woodside has now been able to deliver far more than its initial promise of five years’ funding of $200,000 per year. Noting the high-standard of graduates benefiting from quality up-to-date, industry-led instruction organised to best accommodate part-time students working in the oil and gas industry, Woodside has spent the past two years demonstrating the value of sponsorship to other leading energy companies.

It has been able to secure guaranteed Foundation funding for as much as $80,000 a year for up to five years from major entities such as BHP, MIMI, Woodside and Chevron by showing these companies how many of the centre’s graduates were employed by or had moved to particular companies,.

Led by director Professor Mark Randolph, the Centre for Offshore Foundation Systems undertakes generic long-term research in the engineering of foundation and anchoring systems for offshore projects.

With a turnover of $3 million per year, the centre is hoping for Futures Foundation support of up to $150,000 annually.

Professor Randolph said Futures Foundation support would ensure the centre could maintain key facilities, which in turn boosted its international profile, feeding back into the industry by ensuring international researchers spent extended periods of time at the centre.

He said this would in turn enhance the centre’s ability to produce top-quality PhD graduates.

In its venture to establish the Futures Foundation, Woodside also enlisted Clough Engineering.

Clough, which has supported universities with a range of sponsorships, scholarships and administrative assistance over three decades, reportedly has targeted 100 service industry colleagues and is continuing to enlist members willing to contribute up to $10,000 per year.

Willingness by the international industry to support training to meet the needs of the oil and gas industry was highlighted earlier this month when Curtin University of Technology and Shell International Exploration and Production signed a contract to offer a new master of technology degree, in petroleum technology.

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