THE University of Strathclyde is today launching an Oil and Gas Institute that will allow industry firms to access academic expertise to help them with work like keeping offshore rigs in good condition.

Professor Sir Jim McDonald, principal of the university, said the institute will help to address key industry challenges including continuously improving safety and environmental performance, reducing costs, and increasing production efficiency.

Developed with input from the industry, the institute will have a particular focus on oil and gas asset integrity.

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Melfort Campbell, Chairman of the IMES oil services group, said: "The focus on asset integrity aligns well with the university's proven strengths in this area and resonates strongly with many of the key challenges that the sector is facing."

Mr Campbell was one of the industry partners who helped to drive the direction of the new institute.

The university said the continued operation of ageing infrastructure is one of the major challenges the industry is facing. It said with around 30 per cent of the 7,000 platforms in operation around the world more than 20 years old, many are operating beyond their original design life.

The institute will draw on the university's faculties of engineering, science, business, humanities and social sciences.

The university said this will allow it to access expertise in the technologies and processes needed for the effective management of assets, in areas ranging from the materials and manufacturing processes used to build structures to decommissioning them.