Hundreds of jobs are expected to be created in the north-east following yesterday’s launch of the National Subsea Research Institute (NSRI).
The organisation, which will be based at Aberdeen University, aims to help the UK remain the world’s number one player in the subsea oil and renewables market, which is worth a potential £40billion annually.
The NSRI will fast-track development of a new wave of subsea technology and expertise. The main jobs boost will be at subsea companies, who put this know-how into practice.
The UK subsea sector already leads the way around the world, with 40,000 employees in 750 companies contributing £4.5billion annually to the economy.
The north-east has the biggest concentration of subsea firms in the UK.
Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy launched the institute at Europe’s biggest subsea event, Subsea 09, which continues at Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre today.
The not-for-profit company has been set up by industry body Subsea UK, plus Aberdeen, Dundee and Robert Gordon universities via the Northern Research Partnership in Engineering.
Funding will come from a variety of sources, including oil industry companies such as BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Subsea7 and Technip.
Around £1.5million has been committed to date.
Mr Murphy said: “I am delighted to launch NSRI, which I have no doubt will become internationally recognised as a research centre of the highest quality, positioning the UK at the cutting edge of energy technology.
“A co-ordinated, pan-industry research and development programme embracing the leading oil and gas companies, the supply chain and academia will make sure that the UK continues to lead the world in subsea.”
Subsea UK chief executive Alistair Birnie said: “Subsea skills and technology are vital to the recovery of oil and gas reserves around the world, particularly in mature offshore and deepwater provinces.
“Industry-led and demand driven, the NSRI will address the longer-term challenges the subsea industry faces.
“Today’s launch represents a major step forward in our overall strategy to create a global centre of subsea excellence in the UK.
“A flagship research organisation, the NSRI will also act as a showcase for UK expertise and skills in subsea.
“It will create value and inspire the future of the global subsea industry.”
Aberdeen University vice-principal Professor Albert Rodger, who is chief executive of the NSRI, added: “The institute will offer clear benefits to industry, academia and the UK economy.
“It will combine industry and academic funds to support its national programme and will link technology projects to other national and international programmes to avoid duplication and ensure a co-ordinated approach. Research will be channelled through projects aligned to specific industry needs.”
Prof Rodger said these included economical oil and gas production in deepwater, platform-less developments and long-distance tiebacks.
Facilities of subsea companies and universities will be used on NSRI projects.
Prof Rodger was confident the institute could lead to hundreds of jobs in the UK subsea industry.
The first jobs at the company will be in the academic sector and will include a business manager, research director and research division leaders, plus research professorships.
The NSRI will also have access to 300-plus academics through the Northern Research Partnership in Engineering.
“This is not a small-scale development, this is one of the most strategic and significant academic developments of its kind,” added Prof Rodger.