Curtin Sarawak invites research collaboration in reviving offshore oil platforms

(L-R) Dr. Sharul Sham bin Dol, Dr. Lisa Marie King, Dr. Moussa Leblouba and Dr. Ulugbek Azimov.

Miri – 16 November 2012 – Local and international academics and industry partners are invited to establish research collaborations with a research project team at Curtin University, Sarawak Malaysia (Curtin Sarawak) which aims to breathe new life into decommissioned offshore oil platforms by turning them into mariculture facilities.

Mariculture is a specialised branch of aquaculture involving cultivation of marine organisms such as tuna, mullet, threadfin or shellfish in their natural habitats for commercial purposes. This cultivation technique offers many benefits including taking pressure off wild stocks, creating new jobs and enhancing recreational fishing opportunities.

The research team comprises project team leader and senior lecturer in mechanical engineering Dr. Ulugbek Azimov, Curtin Sarawak Research Institute senior research fellow Dr. Lisa Marie King, lecturer in civil and construction engineering Dr. Moussa Leblouba and lecturer in mechanical engineering Dr. Sharul Sham bin Dol.

According to Dr. Azimov, experts regard aquaculture as one of the most rapidly expanding food industries in the world. He said the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) reported rapid developments in engineering have increased the possibilities for the progressive offshore expansion of mariculture activities.

“There are many decommissioned oil platforms in Malaysian waters that are no longer functional. Why not give them a second chance by using them as the basic structure for mariculture initiatives such as open ocean fish farms?” he said, adding that the mariculture facilities will be able to provide good commercial opportunities for Malaysia in the future.

Dr. Azimov asserted that at the international level, the idea of turning offshore platforms into mariculture facilities is not new.

He said Curtin Sarawak is interested to explore how best to use these platforms for mariculture activities in the Malaysian context, and subsequently move the country forward in the food industry sector.

The proposed project will help to design self-sustaining or very low maintenance fish farms that can be operated with minimal human interaction and internally generate enough energy to remain self-sufficient for a long period of time.

Dr. Azimov remarked that not all oil platforms can be used for mariculture activities as it depends on the location and suitability of the areas. In some instances, the approach would be to utilise the platforms in such a way as to maximise their ability to act as vertical reefs and in time increase the fish biomass in that area.

According to Dr. Lisa Marie King, a senior research fellow of the Curtin Sarawak Research Institute (CSRI) and a project team member, entrepreneurs are also already developing these structures for tourism purposes.

“Some platforms in Malaysia are now being used as staging points for tourists to go scuba diving. These structures do make for an interesting point of differentiation within the Malaysian diving scene,” said Dr. King.

The Curtin Sarawak project team particularly hopes to closely collaborate with oil and gas companies in the region as well as companies involved in aquaculture and mariculture businesses on the project.

Those who are interested in this opportunity can contact Dr. Ulugbek Azimov at +60 85 443 823, or e-mail [email protected] They can also contact Dr. Sharul Sham Bin Dol at +60 85 443 830, or e-mail [email protected]

For more information on Curtin Sarawak, visit its website at www.curtin.edu.my, or call +60 85 443 939, or e-mail [email protected] It can also be found on Facebook (Curtin University, Sarawak Malaysia) and on Twitter at twitter.com/curtinsarawak.

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