Mentoring is an important part of the development and training for all OFFshore ITRH personnel. We strive to have mentoring relationships within academia and industry and for these relationships to be mutually beneficial. For our mentors from industry, mentoring offers a great insight into the university and of the research we undertake.

If you’d like to inquire about being part of our mentoring program please contact us.

Postgraduate Studies

The OFFshore ITRH is currently seeking high quality candidates who are interested in commencing PhD studies in 2017. Available topics are listed below:

  • Project OneInternal tide and soliton forcing on the Australian North West Shelf –  The project will use field observations of soliton events to assess the induced mean flow, turbulence, and the occurrence frequency of events. This information will be used to investigate the induced loading on both through-the-water column structures and sub-sea architecture, plus sediment re-suspension and the resultant turbidity. You will work closely with associated numerical modelling work being undertaken as part of the broader project. Further information is available here.
  • Project Two: Greenwater loading on topside structures for FPSOs – This project will use numerical and experimental modelling to investigate the structural loads that result from greenwater (i.e. water shipped onto a vessel) in large ocean waves. The work will draw on other research within the hub focused on simulating water over-topping onto a vessel, but will focus on understanding the movement of the water once it is on the deck; particularly, how greenwater interacts with different arrangements of structures on the deck of typical Floating Production, Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessels. The project outcomes will be (i) an improved understanding of greenwater-structure interaction, and (ii) better guidance on the appropriate pressure coefficients to be used in the assessment of greenwater loads on topside structures. Further information is available here.
  • Project Two: Roll damping of FLNG carriers during side-by-side offloading – This project will use computational fluid dynamics and experimental modelling to investigate the roll response of Floating Liquefied Natural Gas (FLNG) carriers during side-by-side offloading. Understanding this roll response is important to predict when safe offloading can be undertaken. The analysis will extend classical work on roll damping of ships to account for (i) nearby vessels, (ii) various bilge keel details, and (iii) sloshing in the tanks of the carrier during off-loading. The project will aim to determine accurate roll damping coefficients for use in engineering models which may be used to estimate offloading operability. The outputs will be compared with full scale field data. Further information is available here.
  • Project Three: Mechanisms of trench formation around risers and moorings – This project will investigate the underlying mechanisms that lead to trench formation within the touchdown zone of steel catenary risers and around mooring chains of semi-taut anchoring systems. The work will primarily focus on experimental modelling of risers and chains penetrating cyclically into fine grained sediment to explore the interaction between both sediment erosion and plastic deformation, remoulding, and reconsolidation of the seabed. The project will also investigate fundamental aspects of the interaction between soil-structure interaction and material erosion, which has wider implications throughout the offshore industry. The goal of this research is to develop a simple design methodology to predict trenching rates and ultimate trench shape around infrastructure as a function of system configuration, motion and sediment properties. Project outputs will be compared with available field observations of trenches and ongoing work within the OFFshore ITRH investigating trench evolution using computational fluid dynamics. Further information is available here.
  • Project Three: Well conductor strength and fatigue assessment considering the changing soil stiffness during the well lifecycle – Top-tensioned risers are regularly used as the conduits between dynamic floating production facilities at the sea surface and subsea systems on the sea floor, for both drilling and work-over operations. Recent industry concerns have been raised about the sensitivity of conductor fatigue life to the selection of the floater, the subsea well head equipment, and the lateral soil stiffness at the well conductor. The soil lateral stiffness (p-y response) has a strong influence on the overall strength and fatigue response of the well conductor. Previous work at UWA has shown that the p-y stiffness of a pile in soft soil can change significantly with time. This project will look at developing ‘intelligent’ p-y spring that predict how the p-y response changes throughout the well lifecycle, and develop an efficient means in which this non-stationary reliability problem may treated as a series of locally stationary sequences. Both numerical and centrifuge modelling will be used. Further information is available here.
  • Project Four: Integrated system design for novel subsea anchors and moorings (Geotechnics) – This project will consider the interactions between mooring chains and novel anchors developed to secure offshore floating facilities. Significant lengths of the mooring chains can be in contact with the seabed, potentially providing substantial additional resistance that could allow the anchors to be reduced in size, if the contribution of the chain to the overall system capacity can be predicted. The embedded section of the chain forms an inverse catenary in the seabed when the mooring chain is tensioned. Understanding the shape of the inverse catenary, and how this changes over the whole life of the facility, is an important prerequisite for anchor design. In operation, the strength of the seabed changes – often rising due to consolidation induced hardening – leading to further increases in anchor system capacity. This project will involve experimental and analytical modelling of the chain-anchor interaction, leading to the development of a simple design methodology that can capture the influence of the system interactions and the changing strength of the seabed. Further information is available here.
  • Project Four: Optimising anchor design to promote diving under extreme loading (Geotechnics) – During extreme loading – such as storm events – effective anchor designs will dive deeper into the seabed to maintain the anchor system capacity. Optimising the geometry of anchors to promote diving for realistic loading scenarios is critical to assessing the adequacy of anchor systems for offshore floating facilities. The influence of the changing strength of the seabed – which typically rises due to consolidation hardening – on the anchor dive trajectories, must also be considered for the proposed life of the facility. Furthermore, quantifying changes to the mooring line tension and stiffness brought about during anchor diving is of importance for the mooring design. This project will involve experimental and numerical modelling of anchor response for varying load scenarios for novel anchor geometries previously developed at UWA, leading to the development of a simple analytical tool to assess the adequacy of subsea anchor systems under extremal loading. Further information is available here.
  • Project Four: Whole life modelling of plate anchors: centrifuge, numerical and analytical modelling (Geotechnics) – This project will consider the response of embedded plate anchors to the changes in mooring line loads that occur when storms act on a floating facility. These storms are episodic, such that periods of calm between storms allow the potential ‘damage’ to the soil strength to be recovered and potentially overpassed. Understanding these soil strength changes, and the potential impact on the capacity of a plate anchor is important for effective anchor design. The goal in this project is to provide experimental evidence to remove the conservatism associated with the design of plate anchors, as reflected in current design codes and recommendations. This goal will be achieved using the state-of-the-art physical modelling facilities of the National Geotechnical Centrifuge Facility (www.ngcf.edu.au) at UWA, with complimentary numerical and analytical modelling to develop simple tools that will allow the performance of an embedded plate anchor to be predicted reliably and without conservatism. Further information is available here.
  • Project Four: Field testing of the whole-life performance of subsea mudmat foundations (Geotechnics) – This project will assess the adequacy of design methodologies for predicting the performance of subsea mudmat foundations via field tests. A large scale instrumented model of a subsea mudmat foundation will be developed and trialed at onshore and/or offshore locations with soil conditions of direct relevance to WA’s offshore energy industry.  A system will be designed to apply long term, low frequency cyclic loading to the model foundation, simulating the operation of a subsea oil and gas extraction/processing system in-situ. Comprehensive site investigations will be performed in parallel and used to develop ‘class A’ predictions of the system performance that will be compared to the field measurements in order to assess the adequacy of the design methodologies developed within the OFFshore ITRH. Further information is available here.