TRAINING and research hubs launched at the University of Western Australia will help connect research with the needs of the offshore oil and gas industry.

The two new $20 million hubs are among the nine opened as part of the Australian Research Council’s (ARC) industrial transformation research program.

UWA deputy vice-chancellor (research) Robyn Owens said the timing highlighted Perth’s role as an energy city.

“The 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.”

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 deepwater 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,” said Professor May.

“We will be working … with our industry partners, including those from Korea, China, and the USA, to make a micro scale LNG plant in WA 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,” he said.

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.

With $10 million in combined funding from the ARC and four industry partners – Shell, Woodside, Lloyd’s Register and Bureau Veritas – Professor White said the centre would address the critical engineering challenges associated with Australia’s next generation of offshore oil and gas projects, which will require 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,” he said.