NZ drilling school to tackle skills shortage

A SHORTAGE of suitably trained drilling personnel has prompted New Zealand’s Greymouth Petroleum to put forward NZ$250,000 to establish a drilling training school in New Plymouth, the main city in the petroleum-rich Taranaki region.

Greymouth Petroleum chief operating officer John Sturgess said the proposed school could start offering short courses, that would benefit a wide range of people, from next month at Greymouth’s New Plymouth premises.

Earlier this year, departing chief petroleum and geothermal inspector Steve Ovens told of the lack of adequately trained personnel in New Zealand due to the record number of wells – both petroleum and geothermal – due to drilled onshore in 2005.

Ovens said he had been discussing with drilling companies the possibility of setting up a small training school, and associated small rig, for new entrants to industry.

Greymouth’s Geoff Otene, who will be responsible for establishing the school, said the school would focus on people new to the drilling industry and trainees would come out with qualifications recognised in New Zealand and Australia. The first courses would concentrate on the theory of operations on the drilling floor of rigs. Hands-on experience would follow once Greymouth had set up a small training rig.

Economic development agency Venture Taranaki, the Gas and Petrochemical Training Organisation, and Marine and Offshore Pacific were helping with the establishment of the school, Otene said

Greymouth chairman Mark Dunphy said he hoped other industry players would come onboard and contribute to the scheme.

Associate energy minister (and New Plymouth MP) Harry Duynhoven said Greymouth had shown a real commitment to the Taranaki energy industry – where all of the company’s exploration interests were – and that he looked forward to working with them on establishing and operating the training school.