Gaining practical experience as a Law student in the energy sector

Master’s student Natasha is studying Oil, Gas, and Renewable Energy Law at RGU. As part of her course, she visited the Community Energy Turbine in Seaton Park to learn more about what is in place to decarbonise energy supplies in Scotland to reach net zero by 2050. She shares how the project helped her build on knowledge she was taught in lectures.

Can you tell us more about yourself?

My name is Natasha, I have a Law degree from RGU, where I graduated from in 2021. I work at my local pool as a Lifeguard and Swimming Teacher when I’m not studying for my master’s or out with friends. I grew up in Aberdeen. In my free time, I enjoy exploring Scotland and seeing all the beautiful places we have here. However, I also like to travel and see other, warmer, parts of the world too.

Why did you decide to study the Oil, Gas, and Renewable Energy Law master at RGU?

I did my LLB at RGU and knew I wanted to come back here to further my education. The Law School is such a welcoming place and the lecturers have been supportive in both my courses. After taking a year out after graduating and doing some research, I found that RGU did a specific LLM on Oil, Gas and Renewable Energy, which is exactly what I wanted to learn about.

After doing the Oil and Gas module in my third year, I learned about the legal side of oil and gas and realised there is so much more to it than I ever realised. Growing up in Aberdeen, I thought I had a good understanding of the industry but I quickly found out that I did not.

To try and further my knowledge, I wrote my undergraduate dissertation on the comparison of national and international law on the management of crude oil and renewable energy. I found the area really interesting and wanted to learn more about it. That’s why I chose to study this master’s.

What have you been learning on this Law course?

This semester, I studied Oil and Gas Law, Energy Law and Policy, Maritime Law and Environmental Aspects of Oil and Gas. All of these subjects have been really interesting and I have learnt so much already about the industry.

I learned about regulations that were put in place after offshore disasters and how much of an impact they still have on the industry now. We visited the oil rig simulator at RGU to see how a rig works and the safety features that are in place due to these regulations. I have also been on a Northlink ferry to learn about shipping regulations.

The course has taught me so much about all the policies that the government has in place to protect our electricity supply, as well as exactly how much of an environmental impact the industry has, and what is in place to protect our environment and ensure we meet our target for net zero by 2050.

All the modules that I studied this semester have been really interesting. Having the chance to go out to different places and have talks from industry professionals has enhanced my learning. It was great to get the chance to apply what I learned in class to real life situations.

What has been the highlight of your master’s so far?

The highlight for me so far has been the visit to the Aberdeen Community Energy turbine. I am really interested in the renewable energy section of the course. Which is why to be able to visit an energy turbine that contributes to the national grid by providing hydro power was an amazing opportunity. I learned about the funding process and witnessed how the project runs day to day.

Can you tell us more about the visit to the Aberdeen Community Energy turbine?

We went to the community turbine as part of our Energy Law and Policy Class during Pause & Reflect Week to see how a renewable energy site works and see how it contributes to our electricity supply. We have learned a lot about policies that are in place to decarbonise our electricity supply, so this visit was a chance for us all to see what projects are in place to help achieve that goal.

I really enjoyed the visit. I learned so much on the day, but the main thing I took away was how much the community was invested in this project. We could see how much of a positive effect it had on the community. We also heard about how the turbine works and what the volunteers need to do to keep it running.

The most interesting part for me was learning that the weather has such a huge impact on the turbine. If there is not enough rain, they can’t run it. But it can’t run with excessive rain either. The Aberdeen weather, as we know, is extremely unpredictable so there are times when the turbine is unable to run.

After this visit, I got in touch with the group as I really wanted to be take part and learn more. Unfortunately, when I arranged to go, there was very heavy rain and flood warnings, and I had to cancel my trip. But once I finish all my coursework for this semester, I will be going down there to volunteer.

In what way this experience will help you in your studies and future Law career?

I think experiences like this help in my studies because I am able to apply what I’ve learnt in class, to a real life situation. Seeing how government polices have affected the turbine and just learning how much electricity one turbine can provide has helped connect the theoretical side with the practical side of law.

I also think it can help me in the future as it allows me to make connections with people in the industry.

Natasha Sim

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