Press release

Skilling up shale: First national UK onshore oil and gas college announced

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Announcement of first national UK onshore oil and gas college.

The first national UK shale colleges were today given the go-ahead by Business, Enterprise & Energy Minister Matthew Hancock MP. The new centres of excellence will train a generation of onshore oil and gas specialists, helping the UK to seize the economic opportunities offered by natural shale gas.

The National College for Onshore Oil and Gas will be headquartered in Blackpool and linked to colleges in Chester, Redcar and Cleveland, Glasgow and Portsmouth.

Speaking at the college headquarters at Blackpool today, Business, Enterprise and Energy Minister Matthew Hancock is expected to say:

“Shale gas is an enormous opportunity for the UK and one that we simply can’t afford to miss out on.

“Imagine if we had passed up a similar opportunity to go into the North Sea some fifty years ago. What if we’d let that oil and gas stay in the ground? What if we’d said it was too difficult or too controversial?

“The whole country would be poorer, finance would account for an even greater share of our economy; Aberdeen would be a seaside resort rather than a regional powerhouse.

“I am not prepared to pass up a once-in-a-generation economic opportunity, with the potential for industry to invest up to £33 billion in the next 15 years or so.

“Families, villages and towns across the UK could benefit from this new industry and its supply chain which could create 64,500 jobs.

“That’s why we are investing in the people behind project. Only by arming people with the skills they need to be shale specialists can we provide career opportunities for thousands of young people, boost the power and competitiveness of our firms and help the UK economy remain strong and competitive.

“To make a world-class cluster of expertise in the North West of England, just as Aberdeen is a world class cluster of expertise for offshore oil and gas.”

The Government is providing £750,000 of development funding which will be matched by industry bodies and education providers to develop the College. Further capital funding will be available from the National College programme to support the college on an industry-matched investment basis.
The National College will:

  • Provide high level specialist skills needed by the industry from ‘A’ level equivalents right through to postgraduate degree level, and train teachers and regulators.

  • Accredit relevant training and academic courses run by other institutions.

  • Carry out research and development for improved equipment, materials and processes that will increase the efficiency and reduce the environmental impact of operations.

  • Work with schools to encourage children to consider careers in the industry, and to help them make the right subject choices early on.

Blackpool and the Fylde College’s Lancashire Energy HQ will deliver a comprehensive range of qualifications up to postgraduate level, with facilities including a drill simulator and emergency control simulator.

The University of Chester’s Faculty of Science and Engineering at Thornton Science Park will deliver a number of undergraduate and postgraduate degree courses as well as specialist masters, MRes and PhD programmes, and has recently been awarded funding to construct an Energy Systems Demonstrator.

Portsmouth’s, Highbury College’s Centre of Excellence in Construction, Energy & Sustainable Technologies provides a comprehensive range of accredited and bespoke courses to support entry to and progression in the onshore energy industry. The College is also developing strong links with the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, located in Calgary, Canada’s hub for oil and gas operations

Redcar and Cleveland College’s Teesside Oil and Gas Academy will deliver a range of accredited and specialist bespoke courses in 2014-15, including Drilling and Petroleum Engineering, Geology and Geophysics, Quality management systems, and Piping and Pipeline Engineering.

The Weir Advanced Research Centre, based at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, will accelerate the development of high pressure pumping, hydraulic fracturing and other above ground hardware together with the training of highly skilled employees to operate the equipment.

The Minister will also be opening the new Advanced Technology Centre. The centre will provide a state-of-the-art learning environment that will become the Centre of Excellence for advanced engineering, technology and energy solutions on the Fylde Coast and across Lancashire. An estimated 6,000 students from the age of 14 years through to adults will benefit from this training and education every year.

Industry group, the United Kingdom Onshore Oil and Gas (UKOOG), led the bid to set up the college. Oversight by the industry will ensure that these colleges ensure students achieve the high level specialist training to meet the current and future needs of the industry, and keeps the UK ahead of the competition in drilling, hydraulic fracturing, site development and environmental management.

Further capital funding will be available from the National College programme to support the college on an industry-matched investment basis.

Notes to Editors

Economic Benefits of Shale Gas

2013: Institute of Directors (IoD) published the “Getting Shale Gas Working” report”.

  • UK investment could reach £3.7bn a year and support 74,000 jobs in the oil, gas, construction, engineering and chemicals sectors 2014: EY published “Getting ready for UK shale gas Supply chain and skills requirements and opportunities.”

  • Projects total investment required could be as high as £33bn between 2016 and-2032. For example, projected need for more than £2bn worth of steel, and a need for around 50 drilling rigs, and for over £2bn worth of sand.

Current Planning Applications

  • There are about a dozen companies actively considering exploratory drilling but we expect no hydraulic fracturing before 2015.

  • Cuadrilla has applied for planning permission at two Lancashire sites, including hydraulic fracturing; the planning decision is expected early next year.


The government is committed to extracting the shale gas deep underground. Shale gas has got great potential. It can strengthen our energy security, create jobs and grow local economies as well as providing us with a bridge to a much cleaner, greener future.

As North Sea production declines we are more reliant on imported gas from abroad. By 2025 we expect to be importing close to 70% of the gas we consume. Making the most of our domestic oil and gas resources will help us to become more self-sufficient.

Shale gas is part of the Government’s plan to bring down carbon emissions and tackle climate change. A greener Britain will need a need a strong and varied energy mix that includes a range of fuels and technologies such as solar, offshore wind and nuclear, but it takes more to make that a reality. As the greenest fossil fuel, gas provides us that bridge to greener energy options. Hence, shale is a key part of our plan to beat climate change.