China Sets Two World Records in Deep-Sea Energy Exploration

China’s self-developed multi-functional modular seabed trencher completed the laying of over 100 kilometers of the first offshore pipeline project in Bangladesh, setting world records in “sea land directional drilling crossing” and “deep-sea trench behind the channel,” the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) announced Saturday.
Directional drilling, also called directional boring, is a technique oil-extraction companies use to access oil in underground reserves. The term deep-sea trench, also known as an oceanic trench, refers to any long, narrow, steep-sided depression in the ocean bottom with the maximum oceanic depths of approximately 7,300 to more than 11,000 meters.
Usually the depth of the buried offshore pipelines is 1.5 to 3 meters, reaching 5 meters below the seabed, which is already a highly difficult task.
Thanks to China’s domestically developed multi-pulse high-power accelerator, “Shenlong-3,” the depth reached an unprecedented 11 meters for the 146-kilometer offshore pipeline to go through the sea lanes.
Shenlong-3, the world’s first of its kind, is a milestone in developing linear induction accelerator and China’s flash radiography technology. The new project will help Bangladesh unload oil from oil tankers of over 100,000 tonnes.
Xuanji Drilling System: A jewel in the crown
China has seen booming homegrown technologies and equipment for offshore oil and gas exploration in the past few years, with numerous financial and human resources being invested in the sector.
After 12 years of painstaking research, China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) eventually developed an indigenous system of “Xuanji,” a rotary steerable drilling (RSD) and logging-while-drilling (LWD) system that is key to the efficient exploration of offshore oil and gas resources.
The system can accurately control the drill bit thousands of meters underground to target the oil layer and even “remotely drive” the drill to stably traverse more than 1,000 meters horizontally or obliquely in the 0.7-meter thin oil layer, according to CNOOC, China’s largest offshore oil and gas producer.
It can also do real-time analysis of the stratigraphic data. It will help greatly reduce the development cost of oil-gas fields and efficiently develop marine oil and gas resources, the company said.
On April 20, 2022, the first intelligent production line for the Xuanji system was put into operation in Foshan City, south China’s Guangdong Province. The project is one of the core elements in CNOOC’s “intelligent manufacturing chain” of high-end oil and gas exploration equipment.
Li Xi’en, a senior technical expert at CNOOC, told China Media Group (CMG) that they “have adopted the strategy of ‘commercializing a generation then developing the next generation’ to push forward the domestic research and development of high-end technical equipment.”
“Currently, the Xuanji system has covered 32 function modules for three sizes of boreholes. The success rate on the first test of the system has risen from 79.1 percent to 92 percent, with the key indicators reaching the leading level in the world. This year, we have built a production line with an annual output of 100 sets of the Xuanji system and other high-end technical equipment, formally entering the stage of large-scale industrialization,” Li said.
From only one platform reaching 100 meters under water to 61 drilling platforms with an operating water depth exceeding 3,000 meters, China has been making headway on the path of developing the offshore oil exploration sector.
In 2012, six deep-water engineering vessels capable of working in depths of 3,000 meters were built and put in service, marking the accelerated development of deep-water oil and gas exploitation equipment in China.
Haiji-1: Asia’s highest deep-water offshore jacket
On June 25, 2021, China’s first indigenous 100,000-tonne semi-submersible oil and gas production and storage platform started operation in the waters of south China’s Hainan Province. And the Haiji-1, a homegrown 300-meter deep-water jacket, was installed in the South China Sea on April 11 this year. These milestones show that deep-water oil and gas exploration has entered a fast lane in China.
Wang Zhen, director of Energy Economics Research Institute under CNOOC, told CMG that “it can be said that China has become a major country in the world in the field of petroleum engineering technology and equipment manufacturing. We have basically covered the entire industrial chain of petroleum engineering technical equipment. But we have not yet become a great power. We are now in the process of building greater strengths in petroleum engineering technical equipment.”
In 2021, according to official statistics reported by CMG, 119 sets of marine engineering equipment were manufactured and delivered by China, accounting for 55 percent of the world’s total.
By the end of this March, the domestic offshore engineering equipment enterprises had received 273 orders for offshore engineering vessels, accounting for 54 percent of the global total.

About Parvin Faghfouri Azar

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