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NERC CDT in Oil & Gas PhD studentships: Effects of soil erosion and vegetation on the installation of buried Oil and Gas pipelines

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  • Full or part time
    Dr A Leung
    Dr A Black
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

Project Description

Under the impact of climate change, soil erosion due to increasingly intense rainfall has become one of the major geohazards that pose a great challenge to install buried oil and gas onshore pipelines in natural terrain environments. Depth of cover of a pipeline varies with the erosion events, but it has been considered fixed in design. There are no data about the extent to which soil depth might in future change in response to climate change. Poor engineering design of depth of cover could lead to pipe uplifting, pipe heat loss and subsequently increased pumping energy of oil due to its greater viscosity. The mechanisms involved in rainfall-induced erosion are complex, especially when the soil surface roughness is modified by plants. Existing design is empirically-based. Improved scientific understanding of soil erosion, and its interaction with vegetation, is needed to increase engineers’ design abilities to build buried pipelines in this kind of challenging environments and for more cost-effective oil production.

The project will scientifically determine the quantity of rainfall-induced erosion through physical testing in the laboratory. New analytical tools will be developed to estimate change in depth of cover for pipeline design. The new model will combine with existing mechanical models that predict the effects of depth of cover on pipe uplifting capacity and thermal models that assess soil-pipe heat transfer in pipes for designing more cost-effective oil and gas pipelines in challenging geographical environments. The new tools developed will be evaluated against case studies to real Oil and Gas sites with known erosional risk.

This project calls for skills in soil physics/biophysics, hydrology/physical geography and engineering. The successful candidate will have a strong background in one of these disciplines and some expertise, or the capacity to develop further skills, in the other fields needed to complete the project.

With regards to the specific project, applicants will be evaluated on their experience and educational background in areas related to the subject and their likely ability to accomplish the two different aspects of the research involved.

The following guidance relating to evaluation criteria is provided for information to candidates applying for the above studentships. In general, the evaluators in assessing the applications will be looking for evidence closely matching the majority of the following attributes:
1. Clarity and focus of applicant’s statement of purpose and potential for higher degree studies.
2. Examples of research experience where applicable including undergraduate/MSc projects and any relevant research publications or presentations.
3. Degree of interest expressed by faculty / potential supervisors in working with the applicant as graduate student.
4. Writing / communication skills.
5. Status and quality of the applicant’s references.

Funding Notes

This project is funded by NERC and is for 48 months and is open to UK residents only.

The candidate will have a background in Earth Sciences, Geography or Civil Engineering. Candidates should hold or expect to gain a 2.1 degree, or above. Candidates who hold a 2.2 degree with an appropriate Master’s level qualification are also eligible. The successful applicant will receive a stipend and full tuition fees. Additional funding will be available for travel and training.

Forward a CV and application letter to:
Dr Anthony Leung
School of Science and Engineering
University of Dundee
[email protected]


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