Project underway to improve construction of deep sea oil and gas pipelines for remote fields


A project is underway to improve the international competitiveness of Australia's oil and gas industry by changing how deep sea oil and gas pipelines are constructed. A team of engineers from the University of Western Australia is attempting to design mobile foundations to support seabed infrastructure, instead of the traditional stationary foundations. Professor Susan Gourvenec wants to prove that it is possible to design mobile foundations which are safe and efficient. "These deeper, more remote, offshore oil and gas developments have a so-called field architecture that involves a lot of sub-sea wells which goes down into the reservoirs, and these wells are connected by a number of sub-sea pipelines, which go back to a processing facility, which may be floating or onshore," she said. She says mobile foundations will be smaller and cheaper to install. "The traditional foundations are designed to stay in one place and absorbs any loads that is placed on it," she said. "This research is going to try and demonstrate that it is possible to design foundations that can move tolerably across the seabed to absorb some of the load that are placed on the foundations from the pipeline infrastructure they support. "We plan to have the design framework for people to be using certainly by the end of the project and we will develop it in an incremental way with feedback along the way from our colleagues in industry." Professor Gourvenec says the technology could make 'stranded' or remote gas fields more attractive. She says they have funding for the research. "We have recently been awarded Australian Research Council funding for a discovery project, that is a three year funding to develop the science behind the concept of the mobile foundation and to deliver a design method that can be used by industry," she said.



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