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Shell pumps £3m into research centre at Heriot-Watt

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6 August 2013

Oil giant Shell is to invest £3 million in a scheme to boost exploration research at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh.

The group said the five-year deal to create the Shell Centre for Exploration Geoscience aims to help meet the world’s growing energy demand by combining industry insights with cutting-edge research.

Professor John Underhill, holder of the Shell chair of exploration geoscience, will head up the centre. He said: “The results will help further our understanding of the development, evolution and deformation of sedimentary basins and complement existing strengths within the [university’s] Institute of Petroleum Engineering.”

The institute was established in 1975, the same year the first North Sea oil was produced, and Heriot-Watt principal Professor Steve Chapman said: “Our partnership with Shell will allow us to build upon industry-relevant research in this key area of hydrocarbon exploration and production.”

The new centre, based at the university’s Riccarton campus to the west of the capital, will start recruiting its first intake of post-graduate students next month.

Energy minister Fergus Ewing said: “Scotland has been a world leader in research and innovation and this investment over the next five years by Shell will help secure Scotland’s place in the future. “This is an exciting new collaboration between private sector and higher education to work together to provide solutions to demand-led science and engineering research.”

Shell last week said it would look to sell off assets in Nigeria and North America as it unveiled a surprise 21 per cent slide in second-quarter profits to $4.6 billion (£3bn), having completed $21bn of disposals over the past three years. Part of the drop in earnings was blamed on oil theft and disruptions to gas supplies in Nigeria.

Group chief executive Peter Voser is standing down at the end of March after 29 years with the UK-Dutch company. He will be replaced by Ben van Beurden, who has been with the group since 1983 and was appointed downstream director in January.

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