Safety first

As part of a series of initiatives to boost standards, the oil and gas industry unveils skills academy and creates an interactive website. Andrew Lee reports.


The UK oil and gas industry has unveiled a range of initiatives to boost skills and standards in the sector, particularly in the area of offshore safety.

This year will see the launch of the first skills academy for North Sea oil and gas operations and the creation of a joint industry website (see below) designed to promote best practice in asset integrity on offshore platforms.

The site is the first in what industry association Oil & Gas UK promised would be a number of initiatives to address concerns raised by the Health & Safety Executive over offshore maintenance standards.

Last November an HSE report highlighted examples of maintenance delays and under-investment in safety-critical equipment.

The knowledge-sharing website is part of the Step Change in Safety initiative. According to Oil & Gas UK, it will allow individual engineers and others in the industry to access full details of a new development in best practice, an incident report or other useful information.

The organisation is also developing a one-day interactive workshop devoted to asset integrity management. This will aim to give senior managers in the industry sufficient knowledge to make informed decisions about the issue in their own business.

The academy, called OPITO and based in Aberdeen, will aim to be a focal point for skills and training across the industry. According to its developers the new body will allow oil and gas employers to engage with partners including the education sector, training providers and government agencies such as local authorities and RDAs.

Though it will be based in Scotland, OPITO said it will have a strong presence in other key oil and gas producing areas such as the East of England.

The industry has already pledged several million pounds of long-term investment for the academy, with about £350,000 available for annual skills projects.

Chief executive David Doig said working with schools and universities would be a particular priority.

‘Our industry has always suffered one of the worst profiles. We are simply not good at communicating all that is good about this industry, particularly to young people,’ said Doig, who also believes that the academy can benefit sectors beyond oil and gas, and particularly the emerging renewable energy industry.

‘We must walk before we can run and we need to focus on key deliverables so that the industry benefits tangibly and very rapidly. However, there are so many transferable skills from oil and gas to renewable, particularly marine renewables, that I see no reason why the academy could not cover the wider energy sector.’



www.stepchangeinsafety.net