CNOOC Begins Deepwater Drilling Offshore China

China’s CNOOC has begun deepwater drilling operation in South China Sea using the CNOOC 981 deepwater semi-submersible drilling rig.

The rig, owned by CNOOC, is the first and only deepwater drilling rig designed and built in China. It has a maximum operating water depth of 3,000 meters and is capable of drilling 10,000 meters bellow the seabed.

The news represents a special milestone for the Chinese offshore industry. It is the first deepwater drilling operation carried out by a Chinese firm in the South China Sea. The rig began drilling operations Wednesday morning, approximately 320 km southeast of Hong Kong at a water depth of 1,500 meters, China’s news agency Xinhua writes.

Xinhua quoted CNOOC Chairman Wang Yilin as saying: “Large deep-water drilling rigs are our mobile national territory and strategic weapon for promoting the development of the country’s offshore oil industry.”

Being the world’s fastest growing economy has also turned China into the world’s largest energy consumer. China’s aim is to extract as much of its hydrocarbons reserves as possible in order to reduce oil imports.

CNOOC chairman says he hopes that the drilling will contribute to ensuring the country’s energy security, Xinhua further reports.

As important for China as it is, this is not the first deepwater project in the South China Sea. Canada’s energy company Husky, in 2009 discovered significant gas reserves at Liwan deepwater field, located some 250 km south of Hong Kong. Husky last year announced that it would, in cooperation in CNOOC, proceed with the development of the $6.5 billion Liwan gas project, which should, once on stream, supply as much as 500 million cubic feet of gas to the Chinese market.

Offshore Energy Today Staff, May 9, 2012