$11m collaboration to free gas reserves

AN $11 million research collaboration designed to unlock stranded offshore oil and gas reserves through improved subsea pipeline design was launched in Perth last week. The collaboration is part of CSIRO’s Wealth from Oceans national research flagship and will have access to $3.6 million in CSIRO cash. Six universities – the University of Western Australia, Curtin University of Technology, University of Queensland, Monash University, University of Sydney and Flinders University – will provide in-kind contributions totalling $7.4 million. The collaboration is meant to complement the work undertaken by the WA Energy Research Alliance, which was established by CSIRO, UWA and Curtin to be a centre of excellence in oil and gas research. The goal of the new project is to develop safe, economically viable and environmentally sound transportation technologies so that Australia can exploit its extensive gas resources in remote, offshore areas. “Improved pipeline technology will also help achieve the flagship’s vision of replacing traditional oil and gas rigs with platform-free fields,” flagship director Dr Kate Wilson said. “It presents an enormous scientific challenge, so we created this cluster to harness the strength and breadth of relevant expertise from across Australia.” Cluster leader, UWA’s Professor Mark Cassidy, said transporting oil and gas in extra-long offshore pipelines was not easy. “We need to think about the stability of pipeline structures over decades in strong currents, a shifting seabed, steep seabed slopes and potential geo-hazards such as submarine landslides,” he said. “The cluster’s research program spans the spectrum of pipeline design. Projects will investigate seabed characterisation and morphology, structural integrity, pipeline monitoring, geo-hazards and full-life reliability.”

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