The NDC offers a number of funded PhD opportunities for high calibre students across a range of areas. PhD students benefit from being part of a new and exciting decommissioning research centre working in Newburgh, Aberdeenshire, along with other PhD students, industry and academics among others.

The NDC includes state-of-the-art engineering laboratories and hangar space for the design and development of decommissioning technology, as well as a suite of environmental commercial testing facilities. At the heart of the Centre is the Decommissioning Immersive Collaborative Environment (DICE), a high-tech digital visualisation suite.

To find out more about our awarded PhD research projects, please visit our PhD Projects.

Pipeline decommissioning: quantifying the risks to the commercial fishing industry

See  FindAPhD.

About the Project:

Over 44,000 km of subsea pipelines have been installed in the North Sea to support oil and gas extraction, many of which occur within important commercial fishing grounds. This spatial overlap can lead to physical interaction between fishing gear and pipelines, with negative consequences for both pipeline integrity and commercial fishing operations. The risks posed by pipeline-fishing interactions will vary according to the type of pipeline, the nature of the fishing and the seabed substratum (soil conditions).

As the North Sea hydrocarbon basin matures, decisions must be made over whether to remove redundant pipelines from the seabed or to decommission them in situ. The risk of in situ decommissioning to fisheries is a major factor in pipeline decommissioning decisions. However, current fisheries risk assessments generally use fishing data with a low spatial and/or temporal resolution, and do not consider impacts beyond injuries and fatalities. Furthermore, the relative importance of the various snagging risk factors (gear type, soil condition), and how they translate to different outcomes when snagging occurs (e.g. injury or gear damage) are poorly understood within the North Sea.

Through this project, the PhD student will develop a fisheries snagging risk model for decommissioned pipelines in the North Sea basin by integrating high resolution satellite fisheries data (Vessel Monitoring System data) with information on historical snagging events, pipeline properties and seabed type. They will then apply it to a basin-wide assessment of the fisheries risk and impacts of various pipeline decommissioning scenarios. The outputs will serve as a common evidence base to support the pipeline decommissioning comparative assessment process, facilitate stakeholder consultations, and increase the speed of regulatory decision-making.

Selection will be made on the basis of academic merit. The successful candidate should have, or expect to obtain, a UK Honours degree at 2.1 or above (or equivalent) in civil/materials/marine/ mechanical/ offshore engineering; highly desirable: MSc in civil/materials/marine/ mechanical/ offshore engineering; knowledge of structural mechanics, numerical analysis, and structural reliability; experience with, or a willingness to learn, programming with R statistical software.

Funding and Eligibility:
This project is funded by the National Decommissioning Centre (NDC), School of Engineering and Marine Scotland Science. Tuition fees will be paid at UK rates (for 2020/2021academic session £4,407) along with a maintenance stipend of £15,285, paid monthly in arrears. Applications from International applicants are welcome providing they can meet the difference between UK and International tuition fees from their own resources. The difference will be approx. £16,600 per annum for 3.5 years.
Application Information:
Applications can be completed online:
Closing date for applications: midnight on 19 August 2021, but we reserve the right to close the advert earlier should a suitable candidate be found

Starting date: to be discussed with supervisor