Shire schools geared up for Petrochallenge

PUPILS from schools across Aberdeen City and Shire competed to become successful oil and gas operators in the north-east heat of the national OPITO Petrochallenge competition last week.

Run and organised by industry skills body, OPITO and sponsored by oil companies TAQA, Aker Solutions, Marathon Oil Corporation and Nexen, and the drilling Trade Association IADC North Sea Chapter, the dynamic online educational event brought together around 170 S5 and S6 pupils from across the north-east to embrace the challenges faced by real-life oil and gas operators.

The event provides an interactive and fun way for school pupils aged 15-18 studying maths, science, engineering, geography, IT and business related subjects to gain first-hand experience of what it’s like to be part of an oil and gas company.

The two-day challenge which took place at RGU’s School of Computing on Tuesday and Wednesday is designed to encourage students to consider a career in the oil and gas sector, helping to contextualise school subjects, giving pupils an idea of how they can be applied in a real-life industrial setting.

Larraine Boorman, UK managing director of OPITO, said: “Petrochallenge is an opportunity for youngsters to gain a hands-on understanding of the oil and gas sector.

“By facilitating direct links between schools and industry, pupils can see exactly how their subjects can impact on future career choices and we are able to increase engagement and interest in the industry both as a source of further study and as a potential career.”

Starting with $200 million in funds, the students were challenged to maximise the return on investment by finding oil or gas and investing in other team’s opportunities. The competitors used a web-based learning tool to study seismic surveys, bid for licenses, farm out shares of licenses to other teams, compete to get rigs, contract service providers, and choose where to drill wells in a fictitious province.

Ms Boorman added: “Petrochallenge does this in a fun and interactive way by engaging pupils in a number of different and exciting challenges, giving them a first-hand experience of what some of these jobs are really like and how maths, science and engineering skills are incredibly valuable.”

Peter-James Addison, of Peterhead, who is also studying Mechanical Engineering at Forth Valley College, said he wouldn’t be where he was today without the event he took part in two years ago.

The 17-year-old said: “I heard about Petrochallenge through the school and before it I didn’t know anything about OPITO or the oil and gas industry. In a way the event got me to where I am today – with a placement secured for when I finish studying and hopefully a job offshore – as I wasn’t aware of the opportunities out there and how I could transfer the lessons I was learning at school into the industry.”