Learning and entrepreneurship

Oct. 23, 2017
Despite the low oil-price environment that industry finds itself in as of late, examples of the educational and entrepreneurial spirit abound.

Despite the low oil-price environment that industry finds itself in as of late, examples of the educational and entrepreneurial spirit abound.

The LNG industry, for one, is receiving an important focus on safety that acts to frame its vital role in fueling the world's future energy demand.

In what organizers have billed as "Europe's first specialist LNG training center," the International School of LNG (isLNG) last month held its first course in Spanish maritime safety agency Salvamento Maritimo's Jovellanos Integral Maritime Safety Center nearby Enagas' El Musel regasification plant in Gijon in Spain's Asturias region.

The focus of this first course-one of several being offered-was the safe handling of LNG. The training session, which taught students about the behavior and routine handling of LNG, was delivered to 14 pupils from various professional areas related to LNG-from plant supervisors to emergency service technicians-organizers said.

The isLNG concept was created by Spanish LNG terminal operator Enagas and Salvamento Maritimo's Jovellanos Center. The two entities signed an agreement earlier this year to form the school. The combine is aiming to further promote the use of LNG for marine transport as well as in ports throughout Spain and Europe.

The Jovellanos Center and the plant at El Musel are only 12 km apart. The center, which covers 143,000 sq m, has offered professional training on safety and the environment in the maritime and port domain for more than 20 years. The plant, meanwhile, contains two storage tanks with 150,000 sq m of capacity.

Future courses to be offered include "Operation and Maintenance of LNG Regasification Plants" and "Small-Scale LNG and Bunkering Operations."

Energy innovators, arise!

Norway's Statoil AS has partnered with Techstars "to create a global accelerator program for innovators and entrepreneurs who aspire to shape the future of energy."

TechStars is a mentorship-driven startup accelerator that holds 13-week programs for startups in various US and international cities.

Statoil and Techstars last month partnered to launch a global accelerator program in which Techstars will reach out through its vast network to identify, recruit, and select the world's 10 most promising energy innovators and entrepreneurial firms to participate in the program, called Techstars Energy Accelerator (TEA). The companies will be selected among hundreds of global applicants.

Each of the selected companies will receive an initial funding of $120,000 to support compressing 2 years of development work into 13 weeks.

"Statoil's vision is to shape the future of energy," said Ragnhild Ulvik, Statoil's vice-president for corporate innovation. "We also recognize that the ideas and solutions of the future are as likely to come from outside the company as within."

Audun Abelsnes, managing director for TEA, said, "Unprecedented change is taking place in the energy industry. We have proven that the Techstars model works in several other industries facing change and potential disruption and we are excited to see what kind of ideas and solutions we can accelerate within energy."

Statoil and Techstars plan to announce the main theme for the program in November and will open the application process in February 2018. The first TEA program in partnership with Statoil will start in next year's second half.

Funding research

The US Department of Energy reported it will invest $20 million in new oil and gas research projects. The money will be "for cost-shared oil and gas research projects to increase recovery efficiency from unconventional oil and gas wells and to prevent offshore spills and leaks," DOE said.

"This new funding opportunity seeks projects that will advance DOE's objective to support a more environmentally responsible, secure, and resilient US energy infrastructure, while enhancing economic competitiveness and national security," DOE said.

Projects under this funding opportunity will support the Office of Fossil Energy's efforts to ensure environmentally sustainable US and global supplies of oil and natural gas. Funded projects will cover three topic areas-two addressing unconventional oil and gas recovery and one focused on offshore oil and gas leak prevention.