Engineering graduates are at the threshold of a new dream if they are minded to think beyond the confines of upstream oil and gas.
This was the core message delivered by Energy columnist Dick Winchester at the first “poster” showcase of projects by master’s students to be staged jointly by the Energy Institute and Society of Petroleum Engineers in Aberdeen.
Mr Winchester, who has many years of experience in the offshore industry, especially on the subsea side, told the gathering of Aberdeen and Robert Gordon Universities postgraduates and energy industry guests that he was jealous of the array of opportunities available today – the requirements of a mature but still technologically demanding petroleum industry, renewables and carbon.
“When I joined the offshore industry a few millennia back, it was a very exciting time as everything was new and we had to learn how to do many things that have since become the norm,” he told his audience.
“While there is much that is routine about today’s offshore industry, there remains a lot of frontier work to do. But the real excitement is surely renewable energy as the transition really gets under way – wind, wave and tidal, biomass and much more besides.
“So once again we’re on the threshold of a new era that needs fresh thinking, new engineering, and that means that master’s graduates can enjoy lots and lots and lots of really cool opportunities right across the energy piece.
“In addition, there are also huge deep-water and Arctic oil and gas opportunities opening up; frontier challenges that should lead to a host of new technologies.”
However, Mr Winchester said that, while the oil companies had done much of the technology development themselves 20 and more years ago, this was no longer the case.
It was up to the supply chain to carry out such work, so that was where the job opportunities lay.
He warned too that the days of cheap hydrocarbon-based energy were at an end, citing the way in which automotive manufacturers were trying to push the frontiers of engine technology way beyond where they currently stood to improve fuel consumption levels.
As for the poster presentations, there were more than 25 of these from the two universities. Topics included:
The Investigation of a Combined Risers Mooring System for Offshore Australian FPSO Development.
An Assessment of the Economic Feasibility of Renewable Energy Technologies inSub-Saharan Africa: A Case Study of Ghana.
The Economic Viability of Carbon Capture and Sequestration Technologies: Value Chain Linkages from Capture to Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) in Trinidad and Tobago
Denis Pintot, chairman of the Aberdeen, Highlands and Islands branch of the Energy Institute, said he hoped to see the event grow and that there could be more than one showcase a year. He added that it was vitally important that the offshore industry and universities worked together and that the EI/SPE event was one but not the only way of achieving this.