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Categorising commercial fishing risks and interactions with subsea pipelines through finite element analysis

   School of Engineering

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  Prof A Ivanovic, Prof R Neilson, Dr Sally Rouse  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Applications are invited for a PhD project based at the National Decommissioning Centre and the University of Aberdeen. The successful student will undertake research into the risks arising from interactions between subsea pipelines and commercial fishing in the North Sea. This topic is an exciting challenge in the offshore environment that forms a critical part of the UK’s energy transition to Net Zero.

Through this project, the PhD student will develop a regional risk model for decommissioned pipelines in the North Sea basin, considering both human safety and pipeline integrity. By integrating finite element analysis with high resolution satellite fisheries data, historical snagging events, pipeline properties and seabed type, the student will produce a basin-wide assessment of the fisheries risks 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.

With the support of the supervisors, and external courses where necessary, the student will gain expertise in advanced FE analysis methods, offshore engineering, and the interface between science and policy, specifically in relation to decommissioning. The student will develop a range of transferable skills, particularly in relation to the manipulation and analysis of large datasets.

The project is a partnership between the National Decommissioning Centre, the University of Aberdeen, OGUK and Marine Scotland Science. The expectation is that student will spend time at partner institutions. The highly collaborative nature of this project will expose the student to different institutions, including academic, government and industry giving them the opportunity to build a broad network of contacts.

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
  • Demonstrable knowledge of structural mechanics, FE modelling analysis, numerical analysis, and structural reliability.
  • The ability to undertake scientific programming (e.g. in R, Matlab, Python).


Formal applications can be completed online:

- Apply for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering

- State the name of the lead supervisor as the Name of Proposed Supervisor

- State the exact project title on the application form

- All Degree Certificates/Academic Transcripts (officially translated into English and original)

- 2 Academic References on official headed paper and signed or sent from referees official email address

-Personal Statement/Motivation Letter

-Intended source of funding to cover the difference between UK and international tuition fees (if applicable)

- Detailed CV

For any information or informal discussion please contact Professor A Ivanovic on [Email Address Removed].

Closing date for applications: 11:59 on 30 January 2022, but we reserve the right to close the advert earlier should a suitable candidate be found.

Starting date: to be discussed with supervisor

Due to Scottish Government stipulations, some Nationality restrictions do apply. We can accept candidates from any of the following nationalities: UK Nationals, Commonwealth citizens, British protected persons, Citizens of the Republic of Ireland, nationals from the EU, EEA or Switzerland with settled or pre-settled status or who apply for either status by the deadline of the European Union Settlement Scheme (EUSS), certain family members of the relevant EU, EEA, Swiss or Turkish nationals, or, in some circumstances, nationals of other European Community member states).  

Funding Notes

This project is funded by the National Decommissioning Centre (NDC), School of Engineering and Marine Scotland Science. This studentship covers home rate tuition fees plus a stipend of £15,609. If you are not classified as home for tuition fees purposes, you would be expected to fund the difference in fees of approx. £17,500 per annum for 3.5 years, from your own resources.


Depestele, J., Degrendele, K., Esmaeili, M., Ivanovic, A., Kröger, S., O'Neill, F. G., Parker, R., Polet, H., Roche, M., Teal, L. R., Vanelslander, B. & Rijnsdorp, A. D., 1 Jan 2019 ‘Comparison of mechanical disturbance in soft sediments due to tickler-chain SumWing trawl versus electro-fitted PulseWing trawl’, In: ICES Journal of Marine Science. 76, 1, p. 312-329 18 p.
O'Neill, F. G., Summerbell, K. J. & Ivanovic, A., Jan 2018, ‘The contact drag of towed demersal fishing gear components’ In : Journal of Marine Systems. 177, p. 39-52 14 p.
Rouse, S., Kafas, A., Catarino, R. and Peter, H., 2018. Commercial fisheries interactions with oil and gas pipelines in the North Sea: considerations for decommissioning. ICES Journal of Marine Science, 75(1), pp.279-286.
Wu, X., Longva, V., Sævik, S. and Moan, T., 2015. A simplified approach to estimate the probability of otter board hooking at pipelines. Journal of Offshore Mechanics and Arctic Engineering, 137(6), p.061702.
O'Neill, F. G. & Ivanovic, A., Jan 2016, ‘The physical impact of towed demersal fishing gears on soft sediments’ In : ICES Journal of Marine Science. 73, Suppl. 1, p. i5-i14 10 p.
doi: 10.1093/icesjms/fsv125
Rijnsdorp A.D., Bolam, S., Buhl-Mortensen L., Eigaard O.R., Hamon K., Hintzen N.T., Ivanović A., Hiddink J.G., Kenny A., Laffargue P., Nielsen R.N., O’Neill F.G., Piet G.J., Polet H., Sala A. , Smith C. , van Kooten T., Zengin M. Jan 2016 ‘A quantitative method for the assessment of trawling impacts on benthic ecosystems’, In : ICES Journal of Marine Science. 73, Suppl. 1, p. 127-138 12 p.
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