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Workers in the oil and gas industry will be able to earn formal qualifications off-site with the official opening today of the Onshore Petroleum Centre of Excellence (OPCE) training facility at Tonsley.

Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said the purpose-built centre, a first for South Australia, is located in the Sustainable Industries Education Centre, at Tonsley TAFE.

“This centre will train hundreds of industry workers in a fully immersive, simulated oil and gas production environment, without the need for costly fly-in, fly-out arrangements,” Mr Koutsantonis said.

“It is a testament to the strength of our collaboration with industry partners such as Santos, Beach Energy and Senex Energy, who have committed funds, valuable equipment and expertise to the new training centre.

“There’s no doubt the training facility will elevate South Australia as the nation’s and the South East Asia region’s premier destination for learning and innovation in onshore oil and gas.

“Industry workers will be able to undertake a Certificate II in Petroleum Production Operations and TAFE is currently finalising a Certificate IV qualification to meet the skill requirements of the OPCE partners.

“Previously these qualifications were only available to the partners with in-house training.”

The centre is an initiative of South Australia’s Mining and Petroleum Services Centre of Excellence announced in the 2013-14 State Budget.

The simulated production environment will include different pump types, gas compressors, a pig launcher and receiver, gas metering skid, field separator and small tanks, as well as associated pressure safety valves, flow valves and other instrumentation.

Water will be used to simulate oil and air will be used to simulate gas flow.

Students will be able to operate the equipment for technical training, including safety, environmental and sustainable operational principles and key maintenance activities. The facility will include a field nodal compressor for Type B gas regulation training, as well as static equipment displays for demonstration and educational purposes such as various valve types, flanges, a well head and a second field nodal compressor.

Santos, in particular, as operator of the SA Cooper Basin Joint Venture (of which Beach Energy is a member), has committed significant oil and gas production and mechanical equipment, engineering design, transportation and installation of the equipment in the training facility.

“We are proud to be part of this initiative which will be the first choice of industry suppliers for training in accredited, specialised skills and will ensure that our industry continues to be led by a world-class workforce,” Santos Vice President Eastern Australia James Baulderstone said.

Beach Energy Managing Director Reg Nelson said: “Providing training opportunities that lead to jobs in the oil and gas sector is important for South Australia, in particular with all the activity in the Cooper Basin. Beach is proud to be supporting this initiative.”

The State Government has provided $500,000 for capital works and operational costs for the centre for the first two years.

Industry suppliers Ottoway Engineering, Logicamms, MRC Global Australia, Bureau Veritas, Transfield Services, GPA Engineering, Inductabend, Witham Media Australia, Toll Energy, Fyfe Engineering, Centralian Controls, Max Cranes, James Walker Australia, ICE Engineering, Konnect Fasteners, Veolia Environmental Services, CD Power and Toyota Material Handling Australia are also providing their expertise and services.

The training centre will be overseen by a Governance Board chaired by industry, with government representation on the Board.

The longer term potential for the OPCE training facility is being acknowledged by other organisations, such as Siemens, which is working closely with TAFE SA to include a large compressor rig in the facility, and workplace safety providers which have approached the OPCE Governance Board to discuss the provision of complementary training at the facility.

The OPCE training facility was established under a Deed between the Mineral Resources and Energy Minister, Santos, Beach Energy, Senex Energy and TAFE SA.