University of WA pours $20m into oil and gas research

Two new $20 million hubs to be used for international research and training in offshore oil and gas have been launched at The University of Western Australia (UWA).

The hubs are part of the Australian Research Council’s (ARC) Industrial Transformation Research Program, with two of the nine centres announced by the Federal Government at UWA.

The launch comes in the same week 5000 delegates gathered in Perth for the world’s largest conference on Liquefied Natural Gas, LNG18.

UWA Deputy Vice-Chancellor (research) Professor Robyn Owens said the timing highlighted Perth’s role as an energy city and the new hubs would add to the world-leading nature of Australia’s energy expertise.

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

With $9.6 million in combined funding from ARC and nine industry partners, the ARC Training Centre for LNG Futures will be led by UWA’s Chevron chair in gas process engineering, Professor Eric May.

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

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

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

“Our close working relationship with our partner organisations 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, to be led by the University’s Shell EMI chair in offshore engineering Professor David White, will help ensure Australia plays a leading role in future offshore energy developments across the globe.

“Drawing on world-leading expertise, the hub will develop and deploy the new technologies and analysis methods required for safe and efficient projects,” Professor White 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 is to devise innovative design solutions that will be adopted by our partners, changing current industry practice.”

Partner organisations in the ARC Research Hub for Floating Facilities are Woodside, Shell, Lloyds Register and Bureau Veritas and the ARC funding for the ARC Training Centre for LNG Futures is matched by support from industry partners Chevron, Shell, Woodside, Samsung, Daewoo, GE, Clough, Guodin and VMG.