The support structure for an offshore drilling platform, the largest ever launched in Asia, began its maritime voyage at midnight Saturday when it began to be pulled by a barge anchored at Chiwan Wharf of Shenzhen city, in south China's Guangdong Province.
Wholly designed in China, the drilling platform foundation is 213 meters high and weighs 25,200 tons. It marks a significant step in the development of China's engineering of deep-water offshore oil technologies, said industry personnel.
After it is taken by the Intermac-650, the second largest barge in the world, to its location in the Panyu 30-1 natural gas field in the South China Sea, the support platform will be fixed to the seabed at a depth of 200 meters and a drilling platform will be built on top of it.
The Panyu 30-1 gas field is being developed by China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), China's largest offshore oil producer.
This will be the first time Offshore Oil Engineering Co. Ltd., an A-share listed company held by CNOOC, is in complete charge of the design, construction and installation of the off-shore drill rig.
Jiang Xizhao, president of Offshore Oil Engineering, said the construction of the drilling platform support structure is a great challenge for his company and a signal that China is improving its capability in offshore oil drilling.
Drilling at Panyu 30-1 is expected to start on September 1 after the construction of the platform is completed, said Liang Yu, Project Director of Panyu/Huizhou Gas Development Project of China National Offshore Oil Company Limited, a company held by CNOOC and listed in Hong Kong and New York.
According to Liang, gas from the new platform will be pumped from Panyu 30-1 and nearby Huizhou 21-1 fields to a natural gas terminal in Zhuhai city of Guangdong through offshore pipelines that are 365 km long.
The terminal has an annual capacity to handle 1.6 billion cubic meters of gas which is enough to meet the demand of Zhuhai and Zhongshan cities of Guangdong Province and Macao, said Liang.
(Xinhua News Agency April 9, 2006)