Dr John Clayburn, Head of Geoscience, Cairn Energy PLC and Prof. John Underhill, NERC CDT Director/Academic Lead

One of Europe's leading independent oil and gas exploration and development companies, Cairn Energy, has agreed to support the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Oil & Gas.

In doing so, they become the tenth member of a group of oil and gas companies who are underpinning the provision of the CDT's Training Academy, which itself complements the research projects undertaken by annual cohorts of around 30 PhD students based in 17 Universities across the UK.

The contract for the CDT was awarded in 2013 to a consortium of 17 Universities, led by Heriot-Watt, and 2 NERC Research Centre affiliates, before being launched successfully in 2014. The Training Academy initiative is set to run initially for six years and will oversee the training of 3 cohorts of PhD students on four-year studentships in that time.

In announcing Cairn's participation in the CDT, John Underhill, NERC CDT Director, said:

"I am delighted to welcome Cairn to our team of industry sponsors. Their contribution will further enhance the success of the CDT's Training provision and PhD student experience. Given that Cairn's support has come at a time of such oil price challenge, their engagement serves to underline the value, worth, potential and the important niche that the CDT scheme represents in producing informed earth and environmental scientists for the future and the value attached to NERC and Government support of the scheme"

Dr John Clayburn, Head of Geoscience, Cairn Energy PLC, said:

"Cairn is excited to be part of this innovative collaboration.  We are delighted to be contributing to an initiative designed to attract and train top postgraduate talent for the future energy industry".

The total investment in the CDT now sits at an impressive £9million, comprising £2.7million from NERC to support 10 studentships per annum, £5.3million from the host higher education institutions and over £1million already pledged to support the Training Academy by the sponsor companies, a sum that will rise further to £2.4million with continued success.

The CDT's remarkable success has led to it being described by AAPG Europe President, Professor Keith Gerdes, as "a truly game-changing initiative, which represents the most exciting development in the provision of training for the energy industry in the UK that has occurred during my career."