A new Research Hub for Offshore Floating Facilities, based at The University of Western Australia, will address critical engineering challenges associated with Australia’s next generation of offshore oil and gas projects.
The new five-year research program, part of the Australian Research Council (ARC) Industrial Transformation Research Program, has been officially launched and will draw on expertise across metocean, hydrodynamic, geotechnical and reliability engineering.
The hub will be led by a team of 15 academic staff based in UWA’s Faculty of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics, across the Centre for Offshore Foundation Systems (COFS), the School of Civil, Environmental and Mining Engineering and the School of Mathematics and Statistics.
Energy and Minerals Institute Director Mark Stickells said the Research Hub further strengthens links between industry and UWA research.
“Australia will benefit from the new hub where industry and researchers can work together on ground-breaking projects and we are grateful to the ARC and our industry partners, Woodside, Shell, Lloyds Register and Bureau Veritas for helping to make this happen,” he said.
The Anchors and Foundations team, led by Professor Susan Gourvenec and Dr Conleth O’Loughlin, work together with industry to find innovative solutions that develop high holding capacity moorings for floating facilities and optimized foundations for subsea structures.
Professor Susan Gourvenec said the hub provides an excellent opportunity to strengthen partnerships with industry and assess the feasibility of radical new engineering concepts to support new developments.
“For example, we will trial novel anchoring technologies developed at COFS, to establish whether floating systems can be moored more efficiently. We will also be exploring new design philosophies for subsea foundations which relax some of the constraints of conventional approaches that evolved for fixed platforms,” Professor Gourvenec said.
“Seabed engineering has changed dramatically over the past 15 years as the industry has moved away from fixed platforms and is focusing on subsea architecture and floating facilities. We are challenging traditional anchor types and design approaches, as well as the paradigm that foundations must remain stationary. Instead, we’re exploring the novel concepts of tolerable mobility for subsea foundations and integrated system design. It’s an exciting time to be part of this multidisciplinary research.
“Mobile foundation technology has been pioneered at UWA and can offer a more economic solution for the subsea facilities that will be needed in the developments that monetise our stranded hydrocarbon reserves offshore Australia.
“A mobile foundation is engineered to slide or glide across the seabed to relieve some of the applied loads, rather than simply being engineered to be big enough to resist the loads and remain stationary – but it’s just one piece of the jigsaw.
“We are looking at novel anchoring systems and design approaches, building on UWA’s development of the dynamically embedded plate anchor, or DEPLA, led by my colleague Dr Conleth O’Loughlin,” Professor Gourvenec said.
The DEPLA is a hybrid anchor that requires no external energy source or mechanical operation for installation, and is an efficient means of sustaining high mooring loads.
Image: Professor Susan Gourvenec looks into the straightbox of the Beam Centrifuge used for experiments by local and international academics and industry clients.
EMI Communications Coordinator Nicola Holman +61 439 906 200