NERC projects on oil and gas field decommissioning highlighted by Prime Minister

28 January 2016

NERC's investment of £1 million to support the decommissioning of oil and gas fields was highlighted today by Prime Minister David Cameron.

As part of its Oil & Gas Innovation Programme, NERC has invited proposals for 12-month projects with a focus on environmental management.

The successful projects are due to start in April 2016, and will see scientists working with those set to benefit from their research in the oil and gas sector, be that private, public or charitable organisations, to develop solutions through science.

The planned programme was mentioned by Mr Cameron at a speech Aberdeen this afternoon in which he reaffirmed the UK Government's commitment to the UK’s oil and gas industry.

NERC invited proposals related to addressing challenges around the effect of man-made structures on the environment and options for decommissioning, re-cycling or extending the life of structures. Other projects could focus on monitoring techniques, or ways to manage and store data.

Sophie Laurie, head of innovation, NERC, said:

Over the coming decades, hundreds of the UK's offshore installations in the North Sea will need to be decommissioned. NERC's Oil & Gas Innovation Programme will help develop expertise in the safe and responsible decommissioning of oil and gas fields, which can be exported throughout the world, from the Gulf of Mexico to the South China Sea, as the environmental management of decommissioning platforms becomes an increasingly pressing issue in the UK and world-wide.

Mr Cameron also set out that:

  • £700K will be invested in the development of world-class 3D visualisation facilities at the Lyell Centre at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. The world-leading new Lyell Centre for Earth and marine science and technology will be the Scottish headquarters for the British Geological Survey (BGS) as well as a major joint BGS/Heriot-Watt University research centre for geological, petroleum and marine sciences.
  • NERC is allocating an additional £1m investment in the successful Oil and Gas Centre for Doctoral Training led by Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh and with Aberdeen University as another core partner. This additional investment will enable the programme to be extended for a further year and take the total number of PhD students funded under this scheme to 120 by 2017.

Further information

Mary Goodchild
NERC media office
01793 411939
07710 147485


1. Jointly funded by UK and Scottish funder - NERC, the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) and Heriot-Watt University - the Sir Charles Lyell Centre will promote innovative research at the core of geoscience, marine ecology, computing, mathematics and engineering.

2. Scheduled for completion in early 2016, the centre will establish in Scotland a global centre of excellence based on research synergies and collaboration. It will bring together key expertise from both institutions as well as an £8·5 million investment in top-level academic recruitment from around the world, providing a huge opportunity for Earth and marine science in general, and for Scotland in particular.