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An “extreme” engineering centre is to be built in Newcastle upon Tyne to help develop subsea technology.
The £7 million Neptune National Centre will be created on the River Tyne. Business Secretary Vince Cable unveiled the centre as part of a new oil and gas strategy and said “The UK’s oil and gas sector is crucial to the economy, so we’ve worked closely with the sector on today’s industrial strategy. But its future success relies on it being underpinned by the latest science and technology. This cutting-edge new facility will help put our academic community and industry at the centre of subsea and offshore engineering research. It will drive up skills and develop the innovations needed to fuel growth in the North Sea.”
The centre is to be built on the north bank of the river Tyne at Shepherd Offshore’s Neptune Energy Park. It is billed by Newcastle University, NE1 7RU, who are providing funds for the scheme, as a centrepiece for economic revival. Lead professor for the project Nick Wright said “The Neptune Centre will create a unique facility that will significantly enhance research capacity, not just at Newcastle University but in the UK as a whole, providing a focus for the development of both new technology and academic-industry relationships that underpin future growth.” The project is also supported by Newcastle City Council and includes plans for a hyperbaric chamber which will be capable of testing technology and materials at temperatures and pressures equivalent to those found at the deepest ocean depths.
Newcastle University is to lead a national centre for subsea and offshore engineering as part of a major drive to develop new materials and technologies to explore the world’s oceans. The Neptune National Centre for Subsea and Offshore Engineering has been unveiled as a key part of the Government’s Oil and Gas Strategy. It will be the first of its kind in the UK, bringing together industry and academia to create a world-class engineering research facility. Developing technologies that can withstand one of the world’s harshest environments, the new centre will be at the forefront of our quest to harness the ocean’s potential as a source of food, energy and medicine.
Building on the region’s maritime heritage and Newcastle University’s world-leading expertise in marine engineering, the Neptune Centre will be developed on the north bank of the River Tyne on the Neptune Energy Park, a major redevelopment of the former Neptune shipyard. Neptune Energy Park is part of Shepherd Offshore, Nelson Road, Offshore Technology Park, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE6 3NL. It will be a centrepiece for the revival of this part of Tyneside, bringing with it jobs and investment. The Secretary of State said “The UK’s oil and gas sector is crucial to the economy, so we’ve worked closely with the sector on today’s industrial strategy. But its future success relies on it being underpinned by the latest science and technology. This cutting edge new facility will help put our academic community and industry at the centre of subsea and offshore engineering research. It will drive up skills and develop the innovations needed to fuel growth in the North Sea.”
The project will be part-funded through the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) from the Catalyst Fund and matched with funding from Newcastle University and the private sector. Supported by Newcastle City Council, plans include the building of a unique hyperbaric chamber and environmental test facilities which will be capable of testing technologies and materials at temperatures and pressures equivalent to those found at the very deepest ocean depths. Project lead Professor Nick Wright who is Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation at Newcastle University, said “The Neptune Centre will create a unique facility that will significantly enhance research capacity, not just at Newcastle University but in the UK as a whole – providing a focus for the development of both new technology and academic-industry relationships that underpin future growth. Newcastle University has a long tradition of applied engineering research focused on the marine sector – reflecting the history and tradition of both the University and the North East region. This new national centre will act as a place for industry and academia to interact, providing crucial infrastructure for emerging research opportunities. It will also provide a unique training ground for highly skilled graduates, addressing key skill shortages currently faced by UK industry.”
David Sweeney, HEFCE Director, Research, Innovation and Skills, said “HEFCE investment, combined with contributions from the university and the private sector, will enable this important research centre to be created. It will make a significant long-term impact not only on research, but also on skills and the economy.” Professor David Delpy, Chief Executive of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) said “Newcastle University has a fine track record of engineering research which EPSRC is proud to have supported. “This pedigree means the work at the new Neptune Centre will build on existing expertise and capability to achieve critical mass in areas that EPSRC has identified as strategically important to the UK, specifically the need for fault tolerant electronics and distributed computing in difficult and extreme environments. We are confident that research at the centre will have impact within academia and industry and that collaborative work with other institutions will bring even wider benefits.”
Iain Gray, Chief Executive, Technology Strategy Board said “The Technology Strategy Board is delighted to see that the Neptune Centre is being established in the North East, and are sure that it will make a significant and valuable contribution to the UK’s sub-sea engineering know-how and capacity. We look forward to working with the Centre and helping to support the businesses who engage with the innovative programmes it aims to deliver.” The Neptune Centre already has the backing of leading UK companies through the Subsea North-East Consortium including Shepherd Offshore, BEL Valves and SMD. Richard Dodd, Director of BEL Valves which is part of the British Engines Group, said the investment would further boost the North East’s reputation as a world leader in subsea and offshore engineering. “This partnership between Newcastle University and companies such as BEL Valves is a major opportunity for the region. It will allow us to grow our capabilities and skills base to keep us at the forefront of this highly specialised field of engineering.”
Director of Shepherd Offshore, Offshore Technology Park, Rendle Road, Walker, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE6 3NH Charles Shepherd said: “This is a fantastic development for the new energy park. We welcome Newcastle University onto the site and look forward to working with them in this world-leading research and development facility.” Andrew Hodgson, Vice Chair of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership and Chair of Subsea NE, said “The subsea sector is a vital part of the economic regeneration within the North East of England. There are a significant number of technology-led world leading enterprises in the region and this centre will provide a significant capability to generate new and exciting collaborative projects. Our vision remains to make the North East the recognised centre for subsea technologies on an international scale.”
You can see a video about Shepherd Offshore’s Services here. The transcript is below…
Shepherd Offshore is a world-class offshore marine services organisation specialising in the sub-sea oil and gas and offshore renewable sectors. The group have been successfully serving industry and the local community for almost 100 years from our headquarters in Newcastle upon Tyne. As the largest private landowner on the river Tyne, Shepherd Offshore has been responsible for the creation of a world-class hub to meet the needs of the offshore marine industries worldwide. Specialists in land regeneration and the provisional facilities for world-class manufacturing, research and development and training. Shepherd Offshore works with the government and industry to generate benefit and deliver value to major clients and their associated supply chains. The group alone and operate two major supply bases – The Offshore Technology Park and Neptune Energy Park. Both facilities exceed international standards ensuring safe, secure and cost-effective benefits to our clients.
Shepherd Offshore’s riverside facilities, situated on over 100 acres of land, include 1,500 meters of key frontage with heavy load out capability and deep water access. The 250 tonne static overhead crane is the largest of its kind on the East coast of the UK. Our work force, operating in our state of the art facilities, enable clients to move product to its destination safely and on time. We also provide essential support services including sea fastening, fabrication, heavy lift handling and engineering solutions at our Offshore Technology Park. Major clients trust our experience and with over 80 vessel mobilisations annually our track record speaks for itself.
Shepherd Offshore are serious about health and safety and it’s key to everything we do. Clients rely on us to operate safely, our commitment to safety is second to none. The continuing availability of this expertise has already attracted some of the largest, most ambitious and most technologically innovative enterprises in the world and Shepherd Offshore are positioned to welcome even more. The group is committed to long-term strategic growth of the river Tyne in creating a fully integrated hub to meet the needs of the offshore sector in the North sea and beyond. Shepherd Offshore continues to invest in the regeneration of riverside lands to create the conditions for additional world-class manufacturing and supply operations. Shepherd Offshore’s commitment to the regeneration of the river Tyne is unrivalled. Clients put their trust in us time and again because they recognise that our highly skilled work force can deliver products and solutions to projects anywhere in the world.
Shepherd Offshore is a major presence in the industrial heartland of North East England. Alongside our world-class position in the offshore arena we also offer extensive high quality office space, substantial warehousing and other support capabilities across our North Tyne and Scottish facilities. Our property portfolio includes a number of unique developments providing for corporate hospitality and the film and TV industry. The combination of Shepherd Offshore’s support for manufacturing infrastructure, our people, facilities and location with immediate deep water access to the North sea has positioned us as a major player in the offshore renewables market. The world’s largest offshore wind turbine blades have been manufactured at Shepherd Offshore’s Neptune Renewable Energy Park. The group is uniquely placed to work in partnership with clients to develop the bespoke manufacturing and supply infrastructure that is the basis of sustained commercial success. The long-term strategic vision for Shepherd Offshore is to build on the success of creating a world-class hub for manufacturing services and training within the oil and gas, sub sea and renewable industries.
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