The granting of national institute status to the Indian Institute of Petroleum and Energy (IIPE) in Visakhapatnam district has been hailed by academicians here. The decision was announced in New Delhi on Wednesday.

The IIPE was one of the prestigious institutes granted to Andhra Pradesh after the bifurcation in 2014 and it is at present functioning from a makeshift campus in Andhra University here. The State Government has allocated 200 acres of land to the institute at Sabbavaram in Visakhapatnam district for construction of a permanent campus. The campus is expected to be ready by 2019 or 2020.

Advisor Academics and Director (in-charge) V.S.R.K. Prasad of the institute said, “The status was given as per the commitment under the 13 Schedule of Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014. Even before being accorded the status we were functioning as one such institute and now we are officially declared to be on a par with the 23 odd IITs in the country.”

He said the national institute status would be of great help to the IIPE in attracting the cream of students, and to tie up with industries in the country and abroad.

According to him, the institute has already been approached by Texas A &M University, USA, Robert Gordon University, UK, and Oxford University, UK. The tie-ups will range from faculty and student exchange to delivering certificate courses and exchange of research ideas.

He said the focus would be on research, especially in the energy sector with special emphasis on nuclear and alternative non-conventional energy sources. Five to ten years down the line, "we visualise that IIPE will become the global consultant and research hub for energy.”

He said the institute would not face any fund crunch, as the Union Cabinet had approved Rs 655.46 crore as capital expenditure, Rs. 200 crore towards its Endowment Fund, which are in addition to the contribution of Rs 200 crore from major oil companies towards the fund.

The institute is backed by the Union Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas and also oil majors such as HPCL, IOCL, ONGC, GAIL, OIL, OIDB, BPCL and the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.

Right now the IIPE is offering two B. Tech courses in petroleum engineering and chemical engineering, with intake of 50 students for each course. But there are plans to start a mechanical engineering course in the near future.

M. Tech courses will begin from 2018-19, addressing various PG subjects such as exploration, pollution and environment, energy and geo-engineering.