Smart solutions for challenging environments
Founded in 1975 as a partnership between Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN) and the oil and gas industry, C-CORE (Centre for Cold Oceans Research and Engineering) is known around the world for its depth of knowledge and expertise surrounding the behaviour and prevalence of sea ice and icebergs, and risk mitigation through remote sensing and ice management. Strategically located on the MUN Campus in St. John’s, NL, C-CORE works in collaboration with industry to nurture a skilled talent pool that in turn has access to world-class expertise and facilities. C-CORE encompasses two Arctic-related centres of excellence: CARD and LOOKNorth.
CARD (Centre for Arctic Resource Development) is the only independent, industry-guided research and development initiative in Canada dedicated to responsible, cost-effective hydrocarbon development in Arctic regions. It is concerned with applied research to create innovations that can aid industry and places a lot of focus on engaging experts in the ice engineering world.
“They are fewer rather than in abundance,” says CARD Executive Director, Freeman Ralph. “So being at MUN is quite strategic and attractive for us, through research and development, helping develop folks who can take the engineering challenge to the next level.”
CARD has been responsible for the development of a number of marine technology tools that have become industry standards over the years. A current focus is the continued development of a sophisticated toolkit to monitor and forecast iceberg movements and execute the most effective mitigation strategy, taking into consideration a whole host of environmental factors.
“We’ve been working on tools to monitor the environment and forecast where icebergs are going to go, to understand the forecast and, if I am to initiate a mitigation strategy, how does that new risk profile now look?” explains Ralph.
It is a simulation-based toolbox based on mathematical models of current ice movement and forecasting that will simulate where icebergs will go if their course is unaltered, and allow comparison of this scenario to the outcomes of multiple potential mitigation strategies.
“It is very important when you have multiple facilities, as you don’t want to take away a risk from one facility and create a risk for another facility,” says Ralph. “I can plan ahead, look at risk profiles and optimize a strategy that reduces that risk.”
CARD is hoping to soon add a new tool to this kit in the form of a towing decision support tool, which will take into consideration factors like iceberg size and drift trajectory, and vessel tow power and direction to predict how the tow will look.
LOOKNorth (Leading Operational Observations and Knowledge for the North) is also unique in Canada as it is the only national centre of excellence for remote sensing research, innovation and commercialization related to northern resource development. LOOKNorth utilizes satellite radar technology to track and predict ice movements.
The technology is also being employed to map out areas of the Arctic and provide information on the always-changing landscape. This data is invaluable for keeping inhabitants of the Arctic (and the increasing eco tourism presence) abreast of the ever-evolving ice environment.
“They can go to Parks Canada in the morning to review this information and then safely go out to the edge of the ice to hunt and fish,” says Dr. Charles Randell, C-CORE President and Chief Executive Officer. “It is an extremely high-tech way to help people preserve a way of life they have enjoyed for centuries.”
C-CORE houses one of the largest centrifuges in the world, used to simulate Arctic phenomena. The effect of years of freezing and thawing on ocean equipment such as platforms, vessels, and pipelines can be accurately tested using precisely constructed scale models. The utility of such advanced equipment requires an extremely high level of expertise, which is grown and nurtured in the academic halls of Memorial University.
C-CORE and Memorial University are at the core of a dynamic and growing ocean technology cluster in Newfoundland and Labrador, increasingly regarded as the World’s Cold Ocean LaboratoryTM. The province provides the sub-arctic conditions and prevalence of sea ice and icebergs that make it the ideal proving ground for this kind of research. The resulting collection of world-class facilities and expertise, infrastructure, government support, and local offshore industry further bolster this burgeoning ocean technology presence.
With the Newfoundland and Labrador Oil and Gas Industries Association (Noia)
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