ABSTRACT

The emergence of the potential of the North Sea for oil and gas is providing the opportunity for several European countries, notably the United Kingdom and Norway - to create a home based offshore industry. This situation has developed rapidly over the past four years, and this paper examines the demands that this involvement is creating for specialist manpower, and looks particularly at the present and planned education and training of such manpower. Such education is discussed in the context of the relative involvements and educational patterns in the countries concerned, and a detailed analysis is made of University courses available in the United Kingdom.

INTRODUCTION

Many European countries have a long and renowned tradition of maritime and marine expertise. For example, being nations dependent upon international trade, many have established themselves as leaders in the worldwide shipbuilding industry. And on the construction side, examples such as the Dutch delta-plan point to a mastery of coastal engineering. Offshore dredging and mining, sand and gravel extraction and fisheries are also well established industries around the coasts of the North Sea and the eastern Atlantic. These are all traditional subjects and accordingly the training and supply of personnel for these industries are also well established and stable. Major developments can undoubtedly be foreseen in all of these subjects, but these are unlikely to affect radically the training situation. This paper will therefore be concerned solely with the training aspects of the offshore oil and gas industry in Europe. Although European companies such as British Petroleum and Shell have been operating offshore on a worldwide scale for many decades, the rapid emergence of the North Sea as a major oil producing area is forcing many European countries to re-examine the role and the prospects of a home oil based industry. Many countries in Europe are therefore experiencing the birth of a completely new sector of industry, and the training and educational systems are anticipating and responding to the demands for new types of manpower for this industry. This paper examines some of the training developments which have taken place to date and attempts to place these within the context of national involvements in the North Sea and the various national educational patterns.

NORTH SEA DEVELOPMENT

It is hardly necessary to detail developments in the North Sea in recent years to the Offshore Technology Conference, but it is necessary to include a brief account of this in order that the time scale of the growth of European involvement can be adequately stressed. Unlike the gradual progression of the American oil industry into the local waters of the Gulf of Mexico and other areas, the whole of the European offshore development has taken place over a period of less than 15 (or over perhaps 5) years.

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