83 PhD students comprising the first three annual intakes to the NERC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Oil & Gas were joined by a similar number of representatives from industry, academic partners, government and regulatory authorities for the CDT's 2nd Annual Conference held in James Watt Centre 2 on 7th November.

Professor Garry Pender, Deputy Principal of Research & Innovation at Heriot-Watt welcomed delegates and the conference was opened by Dr Nick Richardson, Exploration & New Ventures Manager at the recently constituted Oil & Gas Authority who gave a stimulating overview of the Authority's role and responsibilities in the strategic development of the UK's oil and gas sector. Presentations were also given by Paul Mason, New Business Manager at Total, and Mark Lappin, Director of COMPLETE Exploration & Development highlighting current challenges in the energy and hydrocarbon debate.

The overview of the CDT’s activities was provided by the CDT’s Academic Director, Professor John Underhill, with the Chair of the CDT Industry Advisory Board, Professor Keith Gerdes demonstrating the reasons for the industry’s support of this collaborative venture. Simon Coote, Head of Energy Industries for the Scottish Government outlined the strategic direction of energy policy in Scotland and Sarah Keynes, Knowledge and Innovation Manager at the CDT’s research council funder, NERC, provided a summary of the organisation’s Innovation Programme in Oil & Gas.

The PhD students themselves were the main event of course, with those entering the second and third years of their studies showcasing their research results to date through a mixture of presentations and posters. 165 delegates attended the event and the range and quality of the students’ work was remarked on repeatedly.

Tracy Shimmield, British Geological Survey Co-Director of the Lyell Centre said,

'excellent day, excellent students , this CDT program is exactly what we should be doing to increase the effect of research in growing the economy’

Colin Oswald, Head of Research Partnerships at Total commented,

‘ The student presentations and posters testified to the quality of the leading edge research and the energy and enthusiasm of the students, academic partners and industrial sponsors. This unique collaborative venture is creating a network of highly skilled scientists who will become the thought leaders of the future and innovations that will enhance the opportunities available for the industry and help to support energy security in the spirit of MER UK.’

The 2014 cohort also gave a presentation on their CDT experience through a timeline of words and photos which helped ensure that the incoming 2016 cohort now embark on their first two-week residential course here at Heriot-Watt full of enthusiasm for the journey ahead of them.