Offshore survival training at one of southern Europe's rapidly developing oil and gas hubs is to be provided by the National Maritime College of Ireland (NMCI) as part of a joint venture.
The Cork-based maritime college and its partner, training simulator manufacturer SEFtec, have secured the contract for the first offshore survival training centre on the Canary Islands.
Spanish minister for industry, energy and tourism José Manuel Soria will mark the partnership with Ireland's honorary consul in Gran Canaria, Victor Aúz Castro, in Las Palmas on Friday.
NMCI head Conor Mowlds described the contract as "very significant" for the college, which is a constituent of Cork Institute of Technology (CIT).
The NMCI in Ringaskiddy and SEFtec in Carrigaline have worked together to design, manufacture, develop and operate the Grupo Stier training centre in Las Palmas, which will be fully operational by September , he says.
Minister for Marine Simon Coveney has welcomed it as a “fantastic example of how Ireland’s public and private maritime sectors can work together to deliver manufacturing and consultancy services overseas, creating jobs and revenue for the country and promoting Irish niche-sector expertise on a global platform”.
The Las Palmas offshore base has targeted offshore exploration and development on the west African coast as its main market. “In the last five years, it has developed considerable business in servicing rigs and ships, in handling crew changes, and this training centre is the last piece in the jigsaw,” he said.
"Crews can now train in the Canaries, rather than in Europe, and it also means that the islands develop their own critical mass in terms of expertise," he said.
Tourism and environmental interests have campaigned against drilling in the vicinity of the Canaries, and Spanish energy company
abandoned its exploration work there earlier this year, stating that it had discovered no oil in the area and only small quantities of gas.
The NMCI, SEFtec contract will generate some 25 full-time and 20 part-time posts, and earnings accrued by NMCI will be re-invested in the college, he said.