Centre for Offshore Foundation Systems

Offshore foundation systems


Various types of foundation and anchoring systems are used to support or anchor the infrastructure associated with offshore structures.

Over the past 10 years, COFS has undertaken research programs that have led to new design methods and the development of novel types of foundation and anchor. The Centre has undertaken research into the behaviour of both conventional driven piles and the novel drilled-and-grouted or grouted-driven foundations piles that are favoured in carbonate soil conditions.

A design method developed at COFS is now contained within the American Petroleum Industry (API) design code.

Our studies into the behaviour of suction caissons supported the first use of these in carbonate soils at Woodside’s Laminaria development, and we have undertaken centrifuge and numerical studies for the API, to devise new procedures for suction caisson design.

COFS has pioneered new physical modelling techniques to allow the installation and operation of various anchor types to be simulated, including:

  • drag embedment anchors
  • suction embedded plate anchors 
  • torpedo drop anchors

New calculation methods have been validated by these tests leading to tools that have been widely adopted in industry. We also have a long-running stream of research related to the behaviour of shallow gravity-based foundations, including the spudcan foundations of jack-up rigs.

COFS researchers have pioneered the development of new yield envelope-based calculation methods for shallow foundation capacity under general loading, capturing the effects of non-uniform soil conditions, varying loading rates and durations and cyclic effects.