National College for Onshore Oil and Gas appoints Colette Cohen as first Chair

19 January 2015

Colette Cohen, head of Centrica’s UK oil and gas production business, has been appointed as the Chair of the National College for Onshore Oil and Gas, headquartered in Blackpool, as it enters its critical development stage.  

Colette’s first role will be to lead the Development Board and guide the National College through its business planning phase.  She brings 24 years of experience of working on onshore, offshore and international projects, including Western Europe’s biggest onshore oil field at Wytch Farm in Dorset.  

Colette Cohen said: “I am thrilled to be taking on the role of Chair of the new National College for Onshore Oil and Gas.  To build a successful shale gas industry it’s vital we attract young people to train for the exciting roles which will be on offer. The National College will be providing a wide range of first class courses in the years to come and I’m looking forward to steering the College through this critical development stage and beyond.”

Ken Cronin, Chief Executive of UKOOG, said: “To have someone of Colette’s experience and seniority guiding the National College right from the start allied to the superb group of academics working on the project gives me confidence that we can build a college that will train the next generation of onshore oil and gas engineers and other specialists to meet the shale industry’s future skills needs.”

Business Minister Matthew Hancock said: “I warmly congratulate Colette Cohen on her new position. She has a thoroughly important job training the next generation of onshore oil and gas engineers and specialists who will extract the shale gas from beneath the ground. This new National College will equip people with the right skills to get a good job in the oil and gas industry and help Britain prosper.”

Bev Robinson, Principal and Chief Executive of Blackpool and The Fylde College, said: “Colette brings extensive industry knowledge and experience to the role of chair. This will be invaluable in shaping the direction and strategy of the National College and is much welcomed.”



UKOOG: Jason Nisse/Nick Morris 0207 680 6550 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Notes to editors:

About Colette Cohen

Colette has a depth of offshore, onshore, international and shale experience, and her expertise and understanding of the high standards that the shale industry upholds will help ensure that the National College is offering the best courses from the start.  The key points from her biography include:

•    Born in Dundalk, Ireland, Colette holds a pure and applied chemistry degree from Queens University Belfast and an MBA in project management and economics from Ceram University in France.
•    In the 1990s, she worked as an engineer both offshore and onshore, including on the development of the Wytch Farm oil field in Dorset, which is the largest onshore oil field in Western Europe.
•    Based in Houston, she headed up unconventional technology development before running the Lower 48 Gulf Coast region, covering development of both offshore and onshore assets.  
•    She has served as President, Caspian Region for ConocoPhillips where she was Executive of the Year 2011 in Kazakhstan and awarded a Jubilee Medal by the Kazakh Prime Minister in December 2011 in recognition of her contribution to the oil and gas industry in Kazakhstan.
•    In 2012, she was appointed Managing Director of Britannia Operator Limited, owned 50/50 by ConocoPhillips and Chevron.  
•    Since 2013, Cohen has headed up Centrica’s upstream oil and gas business in the UK and Netherlands.  Centrica is the largest gas producer in the UK, and is at the forefront of shale gas development through its joint venture with Cuadrilla in Lancashire.  She also serves on related boards, including the Technology Leadership Board and the Oil & Gas UK board.  

About the National College

The National College is jointly funded by government and industry and operates a ‘hub-and-spokes’ model with its headquarters in Blackpool.  Its aim is to train the next generation of onshore oil and gas engineers and other specialists, meeting the onshore industry’s future skills needs and providing first class qualifications and career opportunities for young people.  

The National College brings together the expertise of a number of colleges and universities, together with support from other specialist bodies, including:

•    Blackpool and The Fylde College
•    University of Chester
•    Highbury College Portsmouth
•    Redcar and Cleveland College
•    University of Strathclyde
•    Weir Group Plc
•    OPITO
•    Engineering Construction Industry Training Board
•    Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport

The National College will focus on four areas:

•    Providing the specialist skills needed by the industry at Levels 3, 4 and 5, or higher and training teachers and regulators.
•    In partnership with OPITO, accrediting the courses run by other institutions.  
•    Carrying out research and development for improved equipment, materials and processes that will increase the efficiency and reduce the environmental impact of operations.
•    Working with schools to encourage children to consider careers in the industry, and to help them make the right subject choices early on.

The next stage will see the development of a business plan and curriculum for the National College.  This will include the longer-term funding requirement, including an industry mechanism to provide funds.  


UKOOG is the representative body for the UK onshore oil and gas industry, including exploration, production and storage. The organisation’s objectives are to enhance the profile of the onshore industry, promote better and more open dialogue with key stakeholders, deliver industry wide initiatives and programmes and to ensure standards in safety, the environment and operations are maintained to the highest possible level. Membership is open to all companies active in the onshore industry including those involved in the supply chain.