A robotic drill resting on the seabed with hoses connected to drills of similar design.

Artist interpretation of sea-bed oil and gas operations.

Platform-free oil and gas extraction

Through its platform free fields program, the Wealth from Oceans Flagship is investigating ways to dispense with traditional platforms to open up exploration and resource development in waters too deep for conventional technologies.

  • 8 November 2005 | Updated 14 October 2011

The Wealth from Oceans Flagship is leading the way to access Australia’s substantial gas deposits, worth an estimated A$1 trillion, that at present cannot be recovered economically.

These vast petroleum resources, especially those beyond the reach of our current extraction technologies, have the potential to provide real and sustained benefits to Australia.

The Wealth from Oceans Flagship is assessing the practicality of developing radical new sea-bed technologies to extract offshore oil and gas by:

  • undertaking an audit of current developments and emerging technologies suitable for use in sub-sea or down hole facilities
  • continuing modelling relating to forecast reductions in capital investment required for the development of an offshore gas field
  • assessing research and development and partnership opportunities to create radical new sea-bed technologies to extract offshore oil and gas.

Advantages for Australia

The Platform Free Fields program has the potential to accelerate opportunities for industries and reduce the price of resources to consumers.

The Wealth from Oceans Flagship is developing ways to access substantial gas deposits that currently cannot be economically recovered.

In Australia, this technology could allow the development of large gas reserves in remote offshore locations. It will also reduce the environmental impact, and health and safety issues associated with platform operation.

This radical approach would use sub-sea and down-hole technologies which would save up to 75 per cent of the initial capital investment and ongoing operational costs.

This equates to billions of dollars in savings, and the opening of new energy opportunities for Australia.

Research focus

The program is focused on the development and deployment of technologies in the following three major areas:

  • downhole/subsea processing facilities:
    • subsea/downhole gas-water separation, dehydration system and water disposal
    • field monitoring (autonomous underwater vehicles; sensors network; and data transmission systems).
  • flow assurance
    • hydrates
    • ultra-long tiebacks
    • water shutoff.
  • one-trip well (for large production in large boreholes and reduced drilling costs)
    • wellbore pressure integrity (formation strengthening; chemical casing)
    • sand management (control, evaluation of sanding amount and rate).

Research partners

The successful innovation of subsurface processing technology requires the integration of scientific capability and industry partnerships.

Early phase research partnerships have been established with the Western Australian Energy Research Alliance (WAERA) between CSIRO, Curtin University and the University of Western Australia, and international oil and gas corporations.

Other partners include:

  • Chevron
  • Woodside
  • Institut Francais du Petrole
  • University of New South Wales
  • University of Campinas, Brazil
  • University Simon Bolivar, Venezuela.

Found out more about our research into Energy from oil & gas.