China widely engages in deep-sea research

-Shenhai Yihao platform aims to boost nation’s maritime resource development
Hainan: Shenhai Yihao, the world’s first 100,000 ton deep-sea, semi-submersible oil production and storage platform, began drilling at Lingshui 17-2, an offshore gas field located 150 kilometers south of Hainan island in the South China Sea.
The domestically designed platform aims to tap into the gas reserve 1,500 meters beneath the ocean surface. This single rig can produce about 3 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year, roughly 1.6 percent of China’s total gas output last year, according to China National Offshore Oil Corporation.
Analysts hailed the launch of the 40-story behemoth as a new milestone in China’s maritime resource development. Shenhai Yihao, or Deep Sea No 1, is the culmination of nearly two decades of deep-sea engineering ingenuity and has made China one of the few nations able to extract oil and gas with only domestically made equipment.
In a speech addressing China’s top scientists and engineers in late May, President Xi Jinping urged the Chinese scientific community to break new ground in four strategic frontiers, one of which is the ocean.
Xi has been emphasizing the need to study the seas since 2013, when he uttered the famous phrase “Care about the ocean, understand the ocean, and strategically manage the ocean”.
Wang Pinxian, a prominent marine geologist and an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said deep-sea exploration can yield data on matters such as climate change and weather forecasts and can uncover resources including fossil fuels and minerals.
About three-fifths of Earth is covered by water with an average depth of over 2,000 meters, he said in a People’s Daily article last year.
“The deep sea is also the home of greenhouse gases and is a major factor in long-term climate change. If we wish to know more about Earth, we have to probe the ocean”, Wang said.
On the economic front, nearly 70 percent of newly discovered oil and gas reserves are buried more than a kilometer underwater, he added.
“The bottom of the sea holds a treasure trove of resources, but humanity has only barely tapped into them.”
Wang said deep-sea exploration typically involves three activities: diving, drilling and establishing networks.
The diving is done by manned and automated submersibles that can reach the seafloor. The drilling requires equipment that can penetrate the ocean basin. As for networks, underwater installations, cables and detectors are put in place to continuously monitor the sea floor.
China’s rapid rise in deep-sea exploration in recent years is due to it making major breakthroughs in all three fields, Wang said.
– The Daily Mail-China Daily News exchange item