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Baton Rouge Advocate: Shell partners with LSU

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Advocate staff photos by TRAVIS SPRADLING
Professionals in Shell’s Health Safety Environment Network in the company’s Americas region meet at the Shell Robert Training and Conference Center. Instruction ranges from underwater rescue operations to drilling rig skills, crane operations and professional management improvement. For a fee, any company or organization can use the 20-acre facility for training.

Advocate business writer
Published: Sep 23, 2007

One Shell business strategy that emerged from Hurricane Katrina is the Center for Petroleum Workforce Training, a partnership with LSU in which Shell delivers technical training in Robert and LSU continuing education instructors deliver management and “soft skills” training, communications and leadership training that translate well to any enterprise.

LSU’s Doug Weimer said the partnership, launched in 2006 with Gov. Kathleen Blanco and other state officials, targets bringing more trainees into the oil and gas industry to address worker shortages.

Low unemployment across industry sectors has made that goal a tall order, but the university plans to accelerate work with the Shell training center.

Some classes, for instance, can be taken at the Baton Rouge campus while instructors travel to Robert to deliver other training.

“Training tends to be counter-cyclical,” said Weimer, executive director of LSU’s Continuing Education department. “It’s tough to give up opportunities to earn money to go get training. And for companies that are busy, it’s also a time problem. Sometimes, they can’t afford to take off from their job to get the training. It’s kind of a double-edged sword.”

An example Weimer would like to replicate is LSU’s management leadership certification. A year ago, continuing education instructors began working with 200 beginning supervisors in Halliburton Co.’s Lafayette office. The leadership certification program has its roots in work LSU customized for ExxonMobil’s Baton Rouge refinery more than 50 years ago.

“What has happened historically in this country is the larger companies have the wherewithal to fund more training opportunities,” Weimer said. “I think at some point it’s going to take more traipsing around the state and meeting with some smaller- to medium-sized companies (to steer more industry-specific training to Robert).”

Shell has exploited other opportunities with the state. The Robert center recently played host to a regional meeting of state Department of Social Services employees who convened at the site for its central location, something Weimer thinks will happen more frequently. and its sister websites,,,,, and are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

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