Chinese research team makes international breakthrough with seabed drilling rig

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Sea Bull II, a deep-sea drilling rig developed by a Chinese research team, held a successful trial for drilling at a world-record depth of 231 meters on the seabed of the South China Sea on Wednesday.

The trial could help address China’s lack of deep-sea drilling rigs that are capable of drilling to depths of more than 100 meters and coring with keep-up pressure.

The 7.6 meter-high drilling rig has an underwater weight of ten tons but is very flexible during operation. It was put on the seabed, 2,060 meters beneath the sea level when conducting the trial.

Wan Buyan, the head researcher of the program and a professor at Hunan University of Science and Technology told the media that the Sea Bull II is the only drilling rig that can drill for samples at more than 200 meters in the world.

“The Sea Bull II can conduct coring under a seawater level of above 2,000 meters with a drill depth of over 200 meters. It is ideal for detecting natural gas hydrates considering the storage range of the resource,” Lin Qi, a research assistant at the research center for Marine Science of the National Institute for South China Sea Studies in South China’s Hainan Province, told the Global Times on Thursday.

The South China Sea is estimated to have 800 tons of oil equivalent (toe) of natural gas hydrates, also known as combustible ice, according to Lin, adding that the innovative Sea Bull II will increase the precision of detection.

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