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Updated 4:59 PM EDT, Fri, Oct 11, 2019

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China Puts World's Biggest Offshore Oil Exploration Platform Into Service

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(Photo : Getty Images) A flame burns off excess gas fumes on the top of the five-billion dollar drilling platform Hybernia off the coast of Newfoundland April 21, 2003 in the north Atlantic Ocean.

China's Bluewhale I, dubbed as the world's largest and deepest-operating offshore oil exploration platform, has officially been put into service, China Central Television reported on Saturday.

The semi-submersible drilling platform is specifically designed for the South China Sea that has reserves of untapped oil buried more than 3,000 meters below sea level, South China Morning Post reported. The Bluewhale-1 has a deck the size of a soccer field featuring a drilling system that can penetrate the seabed at 3,658 meters deep and bore a further 15,240 meters into the earth's crust.

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The rig, which has a height of 118 meters (or as tall as a 37-storey building), costs over $700 million and weighs at an estimated 42,000 tons. It features cutting-edge technology from local and foreign suppliers including Germany's Siemens. The Bluewhale-1 has an operating speed about a third faster compared with other Chinese drilling vessels, manufacturer Yantai CIMC Raffles Offshore said.

CIMC Raffles is an equipment manufacturing unit of China International Marine Containers, China's transportation equipment producer. Of note, Bluewhale-1 is an exploration platform, Russia still has the biggest production oil rig, the Sakhalin-1 offshore platform, which weighs 200,000 tons.

Bluewhale-1's owner CNPC admitted that environmental accidents are one of its major concerns, particularly oil spills. The vessel has however undergone sophisticated tests before it started its operation on Feb. 13 at Yantai, a port city in Shandong province.

Strait Times also noted that Chinese rig makers have also made news after an 31,000-ton oil platform was loaded onto the largest semi-submersible ship Xinguanghua for delivery to Britain's Western Isles Development Project in the North Sea.

Known as the Hope 6, the oil platform will reach the North Sea Oil Field in June. It will be used for oil production, storage, and unloading and could hold up to 44,000 barrels of crude oil.

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