A world-class research facility that aims to protect thousand of kilometres of underwater oil and gas pipelines worth billions of dollars from destructive cyclones has won a major award for a team of engineers at The University of Western Australia.
UWA's O-Tube Program - which simulates the effects of cyclone on subsea pipelines - won the Innovation and Development category of the 2012 WA Engineering Excellence Awards.
The project team, led by Winthrop Professor Liang Cheng, from UWA's Faculty of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics, is working on ground-breaking research to develop new technologies to help stabilise seabed pipelines in all weather conditions.
The research is crucial for Australia's massive oil and gas industry, which plans to install an estimated 3000km of offshore pipelines worth more than $15 billion over the next 10 years.
Up to 30 per cent of installation costs relate to stabilisation measures, so a small reduction in stabilisation needs can yield significant savings.
UWA's award-winning O-Tube facility consists of a 20m-long tank into which a giant propeller in a large tube pushes 60 tonnes of water to simulate a cyclone's effect on a pipeline resting on sediment at the bottom of the tank.
The facility is a world-first and plays an important role in helping key industry partners such as Woodside, Chevron, J P Kenny and Atteris in assessing sea-floor pipeline stability.
WA Engineering Excellence Awards judges said UWA's O-Tube Program used local ingenuity and design skills to create a unique, world-class facility for a wide range of research and testing with significant international importance and impact.
"This recognition reflects UWA's efforts in industry engagement and community service," Professor Cheng said. "It will strengthen our existing links with industry and provide an opportunity to promote UWA's excellence in research to the wider community."
Fellow researcher Professor David White, of UWA's Centre for Offshore Foundation Systems, said the O-tube had been used to support pipeline design for Chevron's $29 billion Wheatstone LNG project being built near Onslow and Woodside's $30 billion Browse LNG development.
"The results are helping improve our assessments of pipeline stability and will lead to more efficient and safer design of WA's offshore infrastructure," Professor White said.
The award is the latest in a growing list of wins for UWA's O-Tube Project team. In May, it won the Industry Innovation and Technology prize at the Subsea Energy Australia Business Awards.
Winthrop Professor Liang Cheng (School of Civil and Resource Engineering) (+61 8) 6488 3076
Professor David White (UWA Centre for Offshore Foundation Systems) (+61 8) 6488 3086
Shannon Hooper (Faculty of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics) (+61 8) 6488 3992
Michael Sinclair-Jones (UWA Public Affairs) (+61 8) 6488 3229 / (+61 4) 00 700 783