Foundation Design for the Offshore Oil & Gas Industry


The strength of any structure lies in its foundation, and this is no different in the offshore industry. Understanding the design process for fixed foundations such as  piles or gravity bases is key for anyone involved in, especially given the additional challenges posed to offshore structures compared to their onshore counterparts.


This courses aims to give an introduction to this design process, leaving attendees with a better understanding of the key design processes. Throughout the course, case studies and worked examples will be used to consolidate the knowledge gained by the attendees and gauge their understanding.



Introduction to the industry and overview of the foundation design process

The course will begin with a short introduction to the workshop and structure for the day. The current structure of the industry will be covered (who does what etc…) before taking a short holistic view of the foundation design process.

Geotechnical investigation and soil mechanics

Split into three equal parts, this section will introduce the delegates to site investigation, laboratory testing, and the basics of soil mechanics.


Foundation design fundamentals

This will start by covering the fundamentals of foundation design, including a overview of the types of foundations, the overall philosophy, and the relevant codes and standards. Pile design, gravity based design, and suction caisson design will then be looked at in further detail, supported by case studies and basic worked examples.

Jack-up emplacement and pipeline soil interaction

The course will end with a look at jack-up emplacement and pipeline Soil Interaction, capped by closing remarks.


About the Lecturers

Mark Finch is a Chartered Engineer with 27 years’ experience of offshore geotechnical engineering and foundation design for the offshore oil and gas, renewable energy and subsea power cables sectors. Mark has worked across a wide range of offshore companies, from site investigation and EPCI contractors to operators and developers. Mark regularly acts as Expert Witness in high-value disputes and advises Clients on issues relating to the soils, foundation design and installation issues for their projects. Mark is a recognised industry expert and has published numerous technical papers on a wide range of offshore geotechnical topics. He serves on a number of industry panels and bodies.


Dr Mike Brown joined the University of Dundee as a Lecturer in 2005, following his PhD research and Research Associate positions at the University of Sheffield. Prior to returning to academia he worked in industry for four years in railway and underground structures as a main contractor and as a tunnelling consultant. He is currently a Reader in Civil Engineering. His expertise includes 1-g physical and centrifuge modelling of soil-structure interaction problems, field and case study investigations and specialist element testing He is the current Convenor of CEN/TC 341/WG 7: Non-static tests on piles which has resulted in the publication of two ISO/EN standards on pile testing. He is a UK representative on the International Society of Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering (ISSMGE) Technical Committee TC212: Deep Foundations. He is a full member of the Society for Underwater Technology (SUT) Offshore Site Investigation Group (OSIG) and a steering group member for the Energy Technology Partnership (ETP) Oil and Gas theme. He currently serves on the Géotechnique journal Advisory Panel and is an international member of the JGS Soils and Foundations Journal. He is former Chairman of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) Scottish Geotechnical Group (2011-2014) and the Proceedings of the ICE: Geotechnical Engineering Journal (2011-2014).