The first deepwater drilling rig developed in China is scheduled to drill a well in a part of the sea known as 43/11 block this year at a water depth of 2,454 meters, making it the deepest well in the South China Sea.
The block is being explored by China National Offshore Oil Corp, BP Plc and Anadarko Petroleum Corp. It is on a short list of sites where CNOOC, the owner of the rig, is considering using semi-submersible deepwater rig this year to drill wells.
On Wednesday, the rig began drilling its first well in an area 320 km southeast of Hong Kong and at a water depth of 1,500 meters.
The 5.3-billion-yuan ($839.9 million) rig is to drill the well for 56 days before being towed to other drilling sites in the Baiyun Depression, which encompasses 20,000 square kilometers in the eastern part of the South China Sea, said Shi Hesheng, the chief geologist of CNOOC (CHINA) Ltd Shenzhen Branch.
The Baiyun Depression contains about 700 million metric tons of crude oil and 1.2 trillion cubic meters of gas, Shi said.
The company said the progress of work at each of the proposed wells will largely determine how the drilling rig is used. In general, the equipment can drill about five to six wells a year, according to Zhou Shouwei, former deputy general manager of CNOOC.