The Secretary of State for Scotland, Alistair Carmichael, visited Heriot-Watt's Edinburgh campus on 10th November to hear about the newly launched NERC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Oil and Gas and meet the first cohort of students.

 The £9m Centre for Doctoral Training, which combines the very best of academic and industrial expertise to train the next generation of top level geoscience and environmental researchers in oil and gas, involves seventeen UK universities, the British Geological Survey, the National Oceanography Centre and nine sponsor companies. The £9M investment is funded by £2.7m from NERC, £5.3m from the host higher education institutions and with over £1m already pledged by the nine industry sponsors.

The CDT affords the opportunity for postgraduate students to base their studies at their respective higher education institutions but spend periods during their four- year PhD undertaking bespoke courses and specialist modules delivered by academic and industry experts as part of a unique Training Academy.

The Secretary of State said, "I really valued the chance to visit Heriot Watt University and see how £2.7m of Research Council funding is enabling Scotland and the rest of the UK to remain at the forefront of the Oil and Gas industry.

"This new centre is a great environment in which to learn and develop practical skills in an industry which can take you anywhere in the world. I am sure the students I met on their course will go back to their respective universities full of praise for this centre and the learning environment which has been created. This will help attract even more of the brightest minds in the years ahead".

"In 2012-13 Scotland benefited from £307 million of UK Research Council funding. This helps ensure that Scotland has an excellent and thriving research base which is vital for innovation and economic success."

Professor John Underhill, Academic Lead for the NERC CDT in Oil and Gas, and Shell Professor of Exploration Geoscience at Heriot-Watt University, said, "I am delighted that the vision for training and research encapsulated by the CDT in oil and gas has been supported and endorsed by the Research Council, Government, Industry and Academics alike. Their support has translated into a hugely successful launch".

"Industry experts have described the NERC CDT in Oil & Gas as a truly game-changing initiative which provides a unique opportunity to undertake and contextualise oil and gas research and training to address the energy challenge to keep the lights on whilst respecting and addressing any environmental impact it has."