China’s first successful pilot production of marine natural gas hydrates

On May 18, the Ministry of Land and Resources of the People’s Republic of China held an on-the spot meeting at the Blue Whale 1 semi-submersible drilling rig in the Shenhu Area of the Northern South China Sea to announce China’s first successful pilot production of natural gas hydrates.

CNPC is a partner in the pilot production project of the China Geological Survey (CGS), which is under the Ministry of Land and Resources. Natural gas has been extracted from the gas hydrate deposits at a depth of 1,266 meters below sea level since May 10. As of 10 am on May 18, more than 120,000 cubic meters of natural gas had been yielded, with the highest instant output of 35,000 cubic meters per day and an average daily output of more than 200,000 cubic meters. The methane content of the produced gas is up to 99.5%. At present, the project is operating normally and maintaining a steady output. The target for daily production of 10,000 cubic meters for one week has been overfulfilled. This marks a major innovation in theory, technology and engineering. It is a historic breakthrough in China’s technology and engineering for gas hydrate exploration and pilot production, and is of great significance to securing China’s energy security and optimizing its energy mix.

CNPC Offshore Engineering Company Limited (CPOE) is the general contractor of the pilot production. Drawing on overseas experience and based on CNPC’s expertise in drilling engineering, CPOE has carried out elaborate planning, design and operation in terms of deepwater drilling and completion, sand control for silty reservoirs, HSE, and well control, guaranteeing success in China’s first attempt to test marine natural gas hydrates.

CNPC Chairman Wang Yilin attended the meeting and visited the operating personnel of CPOE at the rig platform. He expressed his appreciation to the crew members and was informed about the progress of the project. Mr. Wang commented that the success of the pilot production adds a new strategic alternative source of energy to fossil fuels in China, marks significant progress in CNPC’s deepwater drilling capacity, and provides CNPC with valuable experience in marine exploration. He called for CPOE to further deepen cooperation with relevant parties, make consistent efforts to address technical difficulties through in-depth research, and explore ways to commercially tap deepwater gas hydrates, in order to make its due contribution to securing national energy security and improving the environment.