More than 80% of Australia's gas resources exist in remote, offshore areas. They may lie as far as 300 kilometers offshore, at a depth greater than one kilometer.
According to Flagship Director, Dr. Kate Wilson, realizing the full potential of these resources requires the development of new, safe, economically viable and environmentally sound transportation technologies.
"Improved pipeline technology will also help achieve the flagship's vision of replacing traditional oil and gas rigs with platform-free fields," Dr Wilson says.
"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 Professor Mark Cassidy of The University of Western Australia says transporting oil and gas in extra-long offshore pipelines is 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 says.
"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.
"This will involve everything from sophisticated computer modelling and sea-floor movement prediction, to understanding tsunami effects and exploring the use of autonomous underwater and remotely operated vehicles."
The University of Western Australia's Vice-Chancellor and CSIRO Board member, Professor Alan Robson, says the University is extremely pleased to host such a prestigious collaborative venture.
"In keeping with our university's aspirations of both achieving international excellence and serving the community, this new collaborative cluster will ensure Australia remains at the forefront of subsea pipeline research, ultimately bringing important benefits to the resources sector and the nation as a whole, " Professor Robson says.
The cluster consists of a A$3.6 million grant through the Flagship Collaboration Fund and in-kind contributions totalling A$7.4 million from the participating universities. The Fund enables the skills of the wider Australian research community to be applied to the major national challenges targeted by the National Research Flagship Program.
The launch will be held at 9am at the Geotechnical Centrifuge Facility, Civil and Mechanical Engineering Building, The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley.
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