First Master's Degree in Decommissioning to Be Offered in Aberdeen

In response to the emerging trend of decommissioning retired offshore oil rigs and platforms, particularly in the North Sea, the University of Aberdeen and Robert Gordon University have partnered to launch the UK’s first master’s degree in decommissioning.

The degree program will focus on key aspects associated with decommissioning, including engineering, project management, business, law and HSE (health, safety and the environment). It’s being developed collaboratively by leading industry experts and expected to attract those working in the oil and gas industry as well as individuals who want to upskill or retrain.

“Within the University of Aberdeen, we have been discussing and planning a [master’s degree] in decommissioning for a while,” Dr. Richard D. Neilson, director of research in the College of Physical Sciences at the University of Aberdeen, told Rigzone. “A group of us from engineering, law, biological sciences, geology and economics who were doing research in decommissioning met first a couple of years ago to discuss this even before the drop in oil price. The collaboration with RGU is more recent.”

Decommissioning also presents a great opportunity for job creation. In May, Rigzone identified decommissioning as one of the top five jobs set to grow in oil and gas.

“The climate is right for us to launch this innovative master’s degree in decommissioning to educate the current and future workforce in this important area of the oil and gas lifecycle,” Ekaterina Pavlovskaia, professor in the University of Aberdeen’s School of Engineering, stated in a release. “Some may ask if this course signifies an acceptance that oil and gas is coming to an end in the North Sea, but that is not the case. Safe and efficient decommissioning of these platforms will benefit the industry for many years to come.”

Neilson said reaction from the industry has been positive. He expects more inquiries to come, with many being from people who work in the industry already and want to complete the course via distance learning. He said they plan to offer that option as well as they’ve had success in their subsea engineering distance learning program.

Courses for the new master’s degree in decommissioning program are scheduled to begin in September 2017.   

Valerie is an experienced writer and editor dedicated to providing useful and relevant career news about the oil and gas industry. Email Valerie at


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Kenneth Bryant | Oct. 4, 2016
This is very useful information. I have been considering directing my Oil and Gas industry career towards decommissioning. I would be very interested to see the course curriculum.


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