The University of Houston will begin offering a graduate certificate in upstream energy safety in January.
The certificate program consists of four sequential courses, culminating in a capstone project drawing upon knowledge of emerging safety and environmental issues in the United States and globally. The courses cover health, safety and environmental issues, including regulatory policies, emergency crisis management and health, safety and environmental leadership.
"There is a gap in the industry," said Ramanan Krishnamoorti, chief energy officer at UH, who leads the University’s energy initiatives. "Most people who start working in the industry have not received any formal training. Most of the time they learn Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) when they take a HSE job."
The drilling boom that brought prosperity to Texas and other states also carries risks. Nationwide, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that more than 660 workers in onshore oil field-related industries were killed from 2007-2012, about 40 percent of them in Texas.
The interdisciplinary safety courses are aimed at people with a Bachelor of Science degree and at least two years of industry experience. Students must earn a 3.0 or higher in each course before moving to the next.
Four courses will be offered each year, with each class consisting of both classroom and online instruction over a 12-week period. The classroom portion will be delivered over a half-day Friday and half-day Saturday, every other week.
The interdisciplinary program was designed by experts from six colleges at UH: business, engineering, law, liberal arts and social sciences, natural sciences and mathematics, and technology.
The courses will be taught by UH faculty and industry experts, and the classes will cover the entire upstream chain, from site selection and drilling to decommissioning, Krishnamoorti said. Onshore as well as offshore drilling will be covered, as will different regulations from one region to another globally.
The initial course, HSE Fundamentals, provides an introduction to the upstream energy industry’s health, safety and environment practices, regulations and vocabulary, with a focus on business practices, organizational methods and expertise in preventing and analyzing industrial accidents and how to promote occupational safety.
Jack Christensen, a geologist with 35 years in the oil and gas industry who is director of the Petroleum Technology Initiative in the UH College of Technology, will serve as director of the Upstream Energy Safety Certificate Program. Cost is $3,000 per course for Texas residents.