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The rig makers of choice

Editorial – Tim Hands

Yantai CIMC Raffles Offshore Limited is an integrated offshore rigs builder, capable of engineering, construction and commissioning of offshore projects. Equipped with stateof-the-art facilities, CIMC Raffles is capable of comprehensive offshore engineering, specialising in semi-submersible rigs, jack-up rigs and multi-purpose offshore projects.

found in Yantai, Haiyang and Longkou, Shandong Province, P.R. China, and occupy a total land area of 1.32 square kilometres. CIMC Raffles today employs nearly 4,000 expert staff, a number which is bolstered even further by the 8,000 subcontracted personnel which make up its workforce. Among the state-of-the-art facilities at the company’s disposal, perhaps most noteworthy is the “Taisun”, the

Yantai Raffles Offshore Limited (YRS) was founded in 1994 by Brian Chang, a man with extensive previous experience of working with various companies in Singapore and Malaysia over a

world’s largest gantry crane. This piece of machinery possesses a lifting capacity of 20,000 tonnes, alongside a pedestal crane with a lifting capacity of 1,900 tones, furnished with a 300,000-tonne dry dock and a hydraulic press


40 year period in the shipbuilding and marine fabrication sector, overseeing more than 600 marine construction projects. CIMC Raffles now boasts three fabrication yards, which can be

CIMC Raffles capable of handling 20,000 tonnes. Throughout the full extent of its varied and incredibly technical operations, the company subscribes to a clear and ambitious set of core principles, which govern closely the work it undertakes. With its central aim to offer cutting edge innovation, management, production facilities and services to the offshore industry, it intends to spend the coming three to five year period embarking on its missions to become a world-class company, and the yard of choice for an even larger body of discerning clients. Jack-up rigs have been in operation since the first was built back in 1954, quickly becoming the most popular type of mobile offshore drilling unit (MODU) for offshore exploration and development purposes. There are now hundreds of these jackups stationed around the world, performing drilling and workover operations in just about every environment. The premise of a jack-up rig is that it is selfelevating – this particular type of rig rests on the sea floor rather than having to float – and as such the legs are stationed on the ocean floor while the drilling equipment is jacked up above the water’s surface. Providing an incredibly stable drilling environment, in comparison to other types of offshore drilling rigs, jack-ups can drill in waters of depths up to 350 feet. It is only when drilling is required in waters deeper than can be handled by the capabilities of a jack-up, that semi-submersibles and drillships become a more logical choice for exploration and development operations. One of the central aspects to what CIMC Raffles terms its © Shell

‘corporate culture’ is a policy of endless innovation, a commitment which has seen CIMC deliver, in recent months, three new industry-leading examples of this jack-up drilling rig. Of these, the ‘New Shengli 1’ was delivered to Sinopec Sheng Li Oilfield Limited in April of this year, serving as a marker of a new era in the collaboration between the two companies, whose working relationship can be traced back to 1977. Work commenced on this project in June 2013, designed and constructed in accordance with the latest rules and regulations from CCS and China MSA, with a total length of 56 meters, width of 54 meters and depth of 5.5 meters, offering a designed operating depth of 50 meters and a maximum drilling depth of 7000 meters. Construction of the rig took a total of 13 months, and the resulting machine will be used to

access oil and gas in the Bohai gulf, throughout its expected lifespan of 30 years. New Shengli 1 is the flagship project of the Sinopec Group, and its construction is designed to support what Shengli Oilfield terms its ‘step out strategy’, and provide a solid foundation for its development in the drilling rig market. As well as this, it will help to further promote Shengli Oilfield’s offshore drilling construction ability, improve its ability to compete in international markets, and in turn open up new possibilities in exploiting stable crude oil production. “This was a relatively simple job for us, to produce a jack-up rig like this one,” states Marketing Manager, Pan Xilu Viu, as he goes on to tell Total World Energy how he hopes


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this will lead to future dealings with the company: “We wanted to build this strategic partnership with Sinopec, especially in view of the projects they have planned in the coming year. This includes the work it will complete with the Sedco 712 semi-submersible rig, a reactivation project with significant potential for our involvement.” The HYSY 932 quickly followed in April of this year, when it was delivered to China Oilfield Services Limited (COSL) in Yantai, Shandong, China. This is a Super M2 Design Jack-up, with CIMC Raffles stepping in to complete both the detailed and shop design before a construction process supervised by Singaporebased Ocean Challenger. With a maximum Drilling Depth of 30,000 feet (9,144 meters) and the ability to accommodate 110 persons, the rig has been specifically designed for use in operations in Bohai Bay. “We have a had a working


relationship with COSL since 2008 now, and this rig is actually the second of three that we have

“we had immediate success with the HYSY 932, discovering oil successfully during its first drill” delivered in the first half of this year. Construction of this jack-up took five years, and had immediate success upon being used, with the rig discovering oil successfully during its first drill on May 4th, in block 34 of the Bohai Bay,” explains Mr Pan. It is exactly this type of proven success that is driving more and more global oil companies to turn to China for services and

equipment. Often it is the case that Chinese companies are able to offer these services at a lower cost than might be available elsewhere, along with a newly acquired expertise that is providing a challenge to more established rivals. Chinese yards are building more of these jack-up rigs, in which CIMC Raffles itself has been so prolific, than all the other yards in the world combined. This means that in less than a decade, China has become the primary producers of the most commonly used rig in the world used for shallow water drilling. Scott Darling, Hong-Kong based head of Asia oil and gas research at JP Morgan, attributes this astounding emergence in part to the previous experiences the country has in providing such services: “The Chinese provide products with better value, and they are experts in managing supply chains, thanks to their domestic experiences.”

CIMC Raffles The Gulf Driller 1 was the third of the trio of jack-up rigs produced by CIMC Raffles on behalf of COSL since the turn of the year, with this rig also expected to set out for the Bohai gulf. Mr Pan clearly believes that the stateof-the-art equipment available at CIMC Raffles facilities is hugely important to its ability to produce such high-quality constructions with such regularity: “It is in part due to these innovations that we are now the semi-submersible rig producers of choice – it has meant that our delivery times and prices for new semis projects are very competitive, and as a knock-on effect, our order book accounts for 20% of the orders the world over.” The clamour surrounding China’s emergence as such a major player within the oil and gas services

“…we feel that China has had a massive impact on the recent improvements seen in the industry – we can offer much more than just financial power”

is certainly a sentiment echoed by Mr Pan, although clearly he feels this is due to more than merely the promise of lower costs. “The strength within the Chinese industry is growing increasing almost by the day, and we feel that China has had a massive impact on the recent improvements seen in the industry – we can offer much more than just financial power.” Industry executives predict that it is exactly this comprehensive set of attributes that the Chinese industry can offer - strong government support, plentiful labour and an abundant supply of raw materials like steel, for example – which could see the country become a major offshore oil equipment manufacturing hub within the next 10 years, just as the 1990’s

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CIMC Raffles

saw Singapore and South Korea overtake the United States and Europe. While, as relative newcomers to the trade, Chinese companies remain far behind in terms of making sophisticated tools - deepwater rigs and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, equipment, for example – they are rapidly gaining the required know-how in order to begin building these. More so than ever before, however, questions of sustainability loom large within the industry, and CIMC Raffles is fully equipped to answer these comprehensively. “We are always trying to be more environmentally sound in our operations - the philosophy of TAISUN methodology is linked heavily to both safety

and an eco-friendly way of working,” sums up Mr Pan. “As an example, we will build these huge blocks on land, which is both safer and means a reduction of the time spent working on the structure in the water, which in turn can reduce construction time by 30%, compared to the traditional method of assembling everything in the drydock, block by block.” In such an expensive, labourintensive and lengthy process as manufacturing energy equipment, the affordability of the services offered by Chinese firms has trumped their relative lack of experience, and CIMC Raffles looks set to play a major part in delivering an ever more sophisticated set of services to companies across the globe

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