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NERC CDT In Oil & Gas PhD studentship: Future Liability for Abandonment Failures

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  • Full or part time
    Prof Reid
    Prof Ross
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

Project Description

A Funded 4-year PhD Studentship is available at the University of Dundee within the Schools of Social Sciences and Science and Engineering

Once an offshore oil-well reaches the limits of productivity it must be abandoned, which requires the deployment of a physical barrier to maintain a long-term seal between the remaining fluids in the well and the external environment.
There exists a very real possibility that at some point this seal will fail, although the manner in which failure occurs may follow a range of different routes which can be catastrophic, gradual, or accelerating in nature. Regardless of the failure mechanism, action must be taken to prevent or minimise environmental harm from the release of hydrocarbons and other pollutants from the well.
When environmental harm is being caused, the question arises of who is to take responsibility for resolving the situation, which may entail very substantial costs. This affects not only the reaction at the time, but also awareness of where the risk will lie and of whether there is a guarantee of future costs being met, since this is likely to affect decisions as to what form of abandonment is acceptable.
This project will explore the nature of the risks arising from different abandonment techniques, the range of mechanisms for allocating liability and securing that liabilities can be met, and the appropriateness of these for the particular risks being faced.

Once an offshore oil-well reaches the limits of productivity it must be abandoned, which requires the deployment of a physical barrier to maintain a long-term seal between the remaining fluids in the well and the external environment.
There exists a very real possibility that at some point this seal will fail, although the manner in which failure occurs may follow a range of different routes which can be catastrophic, gradual, or accelerating in nature. Regardless of the failure mechanism, action must be taken to prevent or minimise environmental harm from the release of hydrocarbons and other pollutants from the well.
When environmental harm is being caused, the question arises of who is to take responsibility for resolving the situation, which may entail very substantial costs. This affects not only the reaction at the time, but also awareness of where the risk will lie and of whether there is a guarantee of future costs being met, since this is likely to affect decisions as to what form of abandonment is acceptable.
This project will explore the nature of the risks arising from different abandonment techniques, the range of mechanisms for allocating liability and securing that liabilities can be met, and the appropriateness of these for the particular risks being faced.
The project will require the capacity to understand both the physical aspects of the risks being addressed and the range of legal responses and their operation. This calls for skills in law, earth sciences and engineering. The successful candidate will have a strong background in one of the disciplines above and some expertise, or the capacity to develop further skills, in the other fields needed to complete the project.

With regards to the specific project, applicants will be evaluated on their experience and educational background in areas related to the subject and their likely ability to accomplish the two different aspects of the research involved.

The following guidance relating to evaluation criteria is provided for information to candidates applying for the above studentships. In general, the evaluators in assessing the applications will be looking for evidence closely matching the majority of the following attributes:
1. Clarity and focus of applicant’s statement of purpose and potential for higher degree studies.
2. Examples of research experience where applicable including undergraduate/MSc projects and any relevant research publications or presentations.
3. Degree of interest expressed by faculty / potential supervisors in working with the applicant as graduate student.
4. Writing / communication skills.
5. Status and quality of the applicant’s references.

Funding Notes

This project is funded by NERC and is for 48 months and is open to UK residents only.
Candidates must have a minimum 2.1 degree or higher, or a 2.2 degree, but have also obtained a relevant masters qualification or have equivalent evidence of prior professional practice or learning.
The successful applicant will receive a stipend and full tuition fees will be covered. Additional funding will be available for travel and training. Further information on eligibility can be found at:
http://www.rcuk.ac.uk/RCUK-prod/assets/documents/documents/TermsConditionsTrainingGrants.pdf
(point 44)
http://www.qaa.ac.uk/assuring-standards-and-quality/the-quality-code/quality-code-part-b
(Chapter B11, page 16)

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