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Call for government to set up fracking skills college

Oil and gas producers have urged the government to create a fracking college to ensure the skills are in place to exploit new reserves.

Oil and gas trade body the UK Onshore Operators Group (UKOOG) said a vocational institution similar to that planned for High Speed 2 (HS2) could be set up for the shale gas industry.

Prime minister David Cameron gave the green light to fracking when he said in January that the government was “going all out for shale”.

In a report published this week, UKOOG said there was the potential to invest £33bn in bringing 4,000 wells into production by 2032. Its Getting ready for UK shale gas report says 64,500 jobs could be created over that period.

Of the £33bn, £2.3bn could go into the steel industry and £1.6bn to rig manufacturing.

Another £17bn could be spent on specialised equipment and skills for hydraulic fracturing operations.

But the report warns that skills shortages could prevent local firms taking advantage.

“For many of the skills required, there is a strong degree of commonality with offshore oil and gas, and with the chemicals industry,” it says.

“However, these related industries are already experiencing skills shortages of their own.

“Given the significant lead times for training, unless early action is taken, there is a risk that the opportunity to maximise job opportunities for local people is missed and new demand makes existing skill shortages worse.”

In January the government announced plans to open a college to train engineers for the work on HS2 so that the £43bn line from London to the North can be delivered by skilled British workers.

The UKOOG report says: “A case could be considered for an elite vocational institution to meet the future skill needs of the shale industry, particularly if looked at in conjunction with offshore oil and gas and chemicals.

“This would not necessarily need to be based in a single location, but could operate on a hub and spoke model, perhaps making use of some of the excellent facilities that are already available in higher education institutions.”

Energy minister Michael Fallon said the report set out the scale of the opportunities presented by fracking.

“The report demonstrates the big prize that could be available to the UK in terms of jobs and manufacturing in the supply chain for our onshore oil and gas industry,” he said.

“Just as importantly, it makes clear what needs to be done to be ready to seize this opportunity.”

Fallon added a rallying cry for the industry: “I want this report to be a call to action for the UK supply chain for small and large companies, whether in Lancashire or Lowestoft, whether in the steel industry, the chemical industry, or in other manufacturing and services. The message is to get ready for shale.”

Readers' comments (1)

  • I am hoping the skills centre will include a course on the inspection of fracking sites in the UK - or is that too much to ask for?

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