UWA launches $20m oil and gas research facilities

The University of Western Australia (UWA) has launched two new $20million hubs for international research and training in offshore oil and gas.

The hubs are part of the Australian Research Council’s (ARC) Industrial Transformational Research Program.

The facilities come in the same week as LNG18, the world’s largest conference on Liquefied Natural Gas which saw 5 000 delegates in attendance.

Professor Robyn Owens, UWA’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), said the hubs would add to the world-leading nature of Australia’s energy expertise and would emphasise Perth’s role as a major energy city.

“These hubs will be powerful tools for connecting research and industry with the partnership, providing a competitive edge for products, processes and services,” she said.

“They will be a unique training environment and will provide a highly skilled workforce with the expertise to unlock Australia’s energy resources and strengthen our contribution to the global energy engineering business.”

The ARC Training Centre for LNG Futures received $9.6 million in funding from both ARC and nine industry partners, and will be led by professor Eric May, UWA’s Chevron Chair in Gas Process Engineering.

May said this centre will focus on cost effective LNG production at all scales, and in remote or deep-water locations. It will include training for five research fellows and 12 PhD students, with 11 industry driven research projects planned across a five year period.

“The centre’s legacy will be a globally unique LNG research and training facility, designed for future integration into a micro scale LNG plant,” he said.

“We will be working over the next few years with our industry partners, including those from Korea, China, and the USA, to make a micro scale LNG plant in Western Australia dedicated for training and research.

“Our close working relationship with our partner organisation is highlighted by the fact that the PhD students funded through the training centre will each spend 12 weeks a year working in the industry.”

The ARC Research Hub for Offshore Floating Facilities, led by UWA’s Shell EMI Chair in Offshore Engineering professor David White, will focus on ensuring Australia continues to play a leading role in worldwide offshore energy developments.

The hub received $10million in combined funding from the ARC and four industry partners – Woodside, Shell, Bureau Veritas, and Lloyd’s Register. White said it will address major engineering challenges associated with the next generation of offshore oil and gas projects, particularly the need for innovative floating facilities.

“Drawing on world-leading expertise, the hub will develop and deploy the new technologies and analysis methods required for safe and efficient projects,” he said.

“Our work spans ocean forecasting, vessel motion and offloading analysis, riser and mooring longevity, and novel anchoring and subsea foundations.

“The research will blend experiments and numerical simulations backed up by offshore field observations with our aim to devise innovative design solutions that will be adopted by our partners, changing current industry practice.”

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