The UK oil and gas industry has today formally opened the new headquarters of its £1.5 million Academy, the global hub for promoting the UK as the worldwide centre of skills excellence within the energy sector.
The global headquarters of OPITO - The Oil & Gas Academy, was officially opened by Sir Ian Wood following an eight month renovation project which has seen Minerva House double its workforce capacity and add a raft of new facilities for industry use.
An industry-funded organisation, the Academy launched in December 2007 following the merger of oil and skills body, OPITO, and the Offshore Training Foundation. With the needs of employers at its core, it was created with the clear aim of providing the industry with a more focused approach in responding to its need for a safe, skilled and effective workforce both now and in the future.
The renovation project has seen Minerva House expand from 9,073sq ft to 12,195sq ft and double its employee capacity to 60, enabling the Academy to meet the growing demand for skills and safety services identified by the industry.
It has also seen the creation of an extensive high-tech video conferencing suite specifically designed for use by industry workgroups, trade association meetings and skills forums.
Speaking at the launch, chief executive David Doig warned the industry that despite the tough financial climate and the current oil price skills development must remain a priority:
"As a mature basin, the UKCS is facing immense technological challenges and the need for operational and capital efficiency to maximise resource recovery from the North Sea and make the sector competitive in the global market has never been greater. People hold the key to achieving this.
At $44 a barrel, the industry is facing some immediate and longer term challenges. The recent job losses in the sector are shaking the strong foundations we have built up in the climate of sustained high oil prices. But we cannot afford to let our focus on skills diminish or we will end up in the same situation we were in 18 months ago when the acute skills shortages were constraining our industry both operationally and through costs inflation.
This industry is very cyclical and the situation will improve again. When it does, we do not want to find ourselves with another missing generation of skilled workers. We need to continue to promote our industry to a new generation of workers, to develop those already in our sector and to ensure that we have a sustainable, competent workforce that will help us deliver now and in the future."
The industry made £10 million of annual investment in its Academy in 2008 to develop and deliver the workforce, standards and competence assurance required for the long-term sustainability of the UK Continental Shelf. It plans to continue if not exceed this level of investment year on year.