Noble Energy, a major player in Israel’s offshore gas industry, will be establishing a NIS 12 million center for training programs at the Ruppin Technological College, the company announced on Monday.
As part of a strategic cooperation agreement with the Emek Hefer-based college, Noble is set to fund the center, which will offer courses on natural gas and energy beginning in October. The center will provide vocational training programs, workshops and seminars for the Israeli market, as well as specialized courses for practical engineers, the company said.
“The new center is the outcome of a long and complex process to identify the appropriate platform for Noble Energy to continue to contribute in the best possible way to development of Israel’s gas industry,” said Patrick Cook, director of operations at Noble.
Cook will serve as the company’s professional consultant to the center.
“We are excited and proud to come together with Ruppin Technological College to fulfill our shared vision of creating a center that will train the generation of the future, and provide an overall, professional and practical answer to the increasing needs of the industry, onshore and offshore,” he said.
Houston-based Noble Energy is one of the primary stakeholders in the largest of Israel’s eastern Mediterranean natural gas reservoirs, the 282 billion cubic meter Tamar and the neighboring 535b. cu. m.
Leviathan. Noble currently owns a 39.66 percent chunk of Leviathan, which will likely decrease to 30% if an expected deal with the Australian firm Woodside goes through at the end of March.
At Tamar Noble holds a 36% share.
Ever since Noble and its partners discovered the sizable amounts of gas off Israel’s shores, the company’s executives have spoken of strengthening opportunities in the local market.
“The gas reservoirs off the coast of Israel are an enormous opportunity for Israeli industry,” said Bini Zomer, director of corporate affairs and joint ventures at Noble Energy. “Over and above the saving of billions in energy costs, the tax revenues received by the state and cleaner air for the country’s residences, the natural gas industry brings additional workplaces to the economy.”
These workplaces, Zomer said, would be “directly in the gas industry itself, and indirectly [through] the increase in supporting service industries.”
He added that the changes would “also reduce production costs in high-energy plants.”
According to Zomer, the beginning of the gas flow from the Tamar reservoir in the spring of 2013 prompted “a spurt in demand for qualified workers” in the gas and oil industries.
“The professional training courses offered by the new center are intended to meet the increasing demand accompanying continuation of the conversion process, the development of the Leviathan reservoir and so on,” he said.
The center at Ruppin will be designed to train employees at different levels in the natural gas sector, with the country’s industry expected to employ thousands of medium- and long-term workers as infrastructure continues to develop.
Operators, installers, inspectors and welders will be critical to the gas distribution system, as well as to factories and at-sea drilling platforms, Noble said.
In its first stage, the center will train professionals through programs developed by the Natural Gas Authority and the Economy Ministry’s vocational training department.
In the second stage it will train professionals on marine drilling infrastructure and pipeline networks extending from sea to land.
Subject to final Economy Ministry approval, one track, set to begin in October, will target practical engineers, who will receive diplomas in mechanical engineering and certification to operate and install natural gas facilities.
The program will also offer professional training for facility installers, operators and welders.
Tammy Zuckerman, executive director of the Ruppin Technological College, expressed appreciation for the collaboration with Noble Energy, stressing the importance of building qualified manpower to equip a growing natural gas industry.
“For some time we have been looking for a strategic partner to help us develop the next technology branch – natural gas energy – so this collaboration with a leading player like Noble is the fulfillment of a dream,” Zuckerman said. “We are in the final stages of submitting documents to the supervisory authorities in order to open the different training tracks at Ruppin already this coming October.”