Unlocking 'stranded' oil and gas reserves

Nov 25, 2013

Engineers at The University of Western Australia are stepping up their efforts to improve the international competitiveness of the local energy and resources industry by undertaking research which could revolutionise the foundations of deep-sea oil and gas pipeline infrastructure.

The research - which has secured new federal government funding - will contribute towards pushing offshore projects down the cost-curve by enabling the tapping of oil and that are currently too expensive to extract. These reserves are referred to in the industry as 'stranded'.

Professor Susan Gourvenec of UWA's Centre for Offshore Foundation Systems will seek to overturn traditional ideas about the kind of foundations needed for pipelines and their associated infrastructure, that can be as deep as 2 km under the sea, and in the process help the local resources sector tackle one of their biggest challenges - the high cost of doing business.

Professor Gourvenec's research wants to prove that it is possible to design mobile foundations as a safe and efficient way to support seabed infrastructure. This challenges traditional thinking that foundations need to be stationary.

Currently, foundations to support deep-water are laid by pipe-laying vessels which have limited lifting capacity. Increasingly foundations are required to resist larger loads, and conventional foundations become too big and heavy to be installed by the pipe-laying vessels, requiring a second 'heavy-lift' installation vessel at considerable expense. The mobile foundations that Professor Gourvenec's team will develop will be smaller, and therefore cheaper and easier to install.

"We're pleased to be working with WA's world-class energy sector to find innovative ways to boost output in deep-water developments," Professor Gourvenec said.

The research will involve geotechnical centrifuge modelling at UWA's world renowned facility to create a new understanding of mobile foundation-seabed interaction.

"Mobile foundations offer a technology to improve the viability of development of Australia's deepwater reserves that are currently 'stranded'," Professor Gourvenec said.

Explore further: Riser fatigue insights to benefit offshore projects

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

First MeerKAT antenna foundation poured

Aug 16, 2013

The concrete for the first MeerKAT antenna foundation was poured yesterday at South Africa's SKA site in the Karoo. This is the first of 64 similar foundations that will be constructed for this telescope ...

How offshore wind turbines could be more efficient

Aug 17, 2012

A Cambridge University study suggests that offshore wind farms could be 100 per cent more efficient in terms of energy payback if manufacturers embraced new methods for making the structures that support ...

Deep sea pipelines to green gas production

Oct 10, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- University of Queensland researchers are working to tap into a wealth of natural gas resources located in distant, deep-ocean fields off the coast of Western Australia.

Riser fatigue insights to benefit offshore projects

Aug 20, 2013

Local research into the risers on offshore oil and gas platforms aims to increase the accuracy of fatigue damage estimates to make steel catenary risers (SCRs) more economical to construct.

Recommended for you

NASA image: Signs of deforestation in Brazil

6 hours ago

Multiple fires are visible in in this image of the Para and Mato Grosso states of Brazil. Many of these were most likely intentionally set in order to deforest the land. Deforestation is the removal of a ...

Sunblock poses potential hazard to sea life

6 hours ago

The sweet and salty aroma of sunscreen and seawater signals a relaxing trip to the shore. But scientists are now reporting that the idyllic beach vacation comes with an environmental hitch. When certain sunblock ...

Is falling recycling rate due to 'green fatigue'?

7 hours ago

It's been suggested that a recent fall in recycling rates is due to green fatigue, caused by the confusing number of recycling bins presented to householders for different materials. Recycling rates woul ...

Study to inform Maryland decision on "fracking"

9 hours ago

The Maryland Department of Environment and Department of Health and Mental Hygiene released on August 18, 2014, a report by the University of Maryland School of Public Health, which assesses the potential ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

ForFreeMinds
1.3 / 5 (4) Nov 25, 2013
This is a good example of over hyping some research for the news. Research into better ways of doing things is what many businesses do. That they are doing this for deep sea oil-rigs is no surprise. That the oil industry got the local government to fund it by paying the professors isn't either, though is unfortunate (it should be funded by those who hope to profit, not taxpayers).

These guys are issuing a press release "We got out money from taxpayers to do research!". Their report will likely conclude that "traditional ideas about the kind of foundations needed for pipelines and their associated infrastructure" are correct. My cynicism is usually right, but I hope I'm wrong in this case.