With the world's oil reserves being drained barrel by barrel, day by day, energy producers are being forced to drill deeper for precious fossil fuel then they've ever drilled before. That's easier said than done, however, as deep drilling – especially at sea – presents formidable challenges that modern technology is only just beginning to address.
Last year's Deepwater Horizon disaster (right) in the Gulf of Mexico highlighted both the immense difficulties of drilling from deep sea oil platforms and the enormous consequences should anything go wrong.
China has poured significant resources and investment capital into deep ocean oil drilling, as a significant portion of the country's oil reserves lie deep beneath the waves and even deeper below the ocean floor. To ensure that drilling for deep ocean oil is conducted safely and effectively, Shanghai Waigaoqiao Ship Building (SWS for short, founded in 1999) has designed a 6th-generation semi-submersible drilling platform that can meet and beat anything Mother Nature can dish out: the Oceanic Petroleum 9-8-1 Platform.
The 130 meter (426.5 ft) tall Oceanic Petroleum 9-8-1 platform (Hai Yang Shi You 981) features a working deck the size of a football field and its four massive support pillars are secured to the ocean floor with multiple anchors. Redundancy is the key to stability, explained SWS's Engineering Director Chen Gang (no relation to The Pretenders' 1982 hit song).
“In total there are 12 anchor chains,” stated Chen, who also pointed out that with three anchor chains on each of the rig's four pillars, an enhanced level of stabilization can be achieved that makes safe ultra-deep drilling possible. Once positioned in the desired location up to 3,000 meters above the seafloor, the Oceanic Petroleum 9-8-1 platform allows operators to drill to a depth of up to 10,000 meters (32,800 ft).
As the first such ultra-deep drilling platform to be designed and constructed in China, the Oceanic Petroleum 9-8-1 platform serves the cause of national pride along with serving the multiple functions of exploration, well drilling, and oil and gas recovery in previously inaccessible areas of the deep ocean. (via Xinhuanet and ShipSpotting)