China launches world’s largest oil exploration sea platform


The 42,000-tonne Bluewhale 1 is bigger, faster and can drill deeper than its rivals in disputed waters

China has put into service what it claims is the world’s largest and deepest-operating offshore oil exploration platform, the Bluewhale I, the state broadcaster reported on Saturday.

The rig has a total deck area about the size of a soccer field with a sophisticated drilling system that can reach the seabed at a depth of 3,658 metres and bore a further 15,240 metres into the earth’s crust, according to China Central Television.

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The Bluewhale I is designed specifically for the South China Sea, where untapped oil reserves can lay buried 3,000 metres and more below sea level.

The rig cost more than US$700 million, or about the price of two Airbus A380 jumbo jets. It weighs 42,000 tonnes and is as high above water as a 37-storey building, CCTV said.