China’s CIMC Raffles leases Bluewhale rig to CNOOC

Image sources: (Bluewhale I Image: CIMC)

China’s CIMC Raffles has confirmed it has signed a two-year contract with CNOOC for the lease of the giant ultra-deepwater semi-submersible drilling rig, the Bluewhale I.

To remind, Offshore Energy Today reported on the deal back in late March – based on data from Bassoe Offshore – however, it was only on May 7, that CIMC confirmed the contract had been signed.

Worth noting at the time of the initial report, the Norwegian rig brokers estimated the contract length at 549 days, eventually downgrading the estimate to 365 days plus options.

In a statement on May 7, CIMC said the contract was actually for two years. The contract for the 7th generation semi-submersible drilling rig was signed by CIMC Raffles’ subsidiary Blue Whale Offshore and it started in April.

Bluewhale Offshore President Jingsheng Xu said: “We are pleased to have this contract confirmed and wish the crews of Bluewhale I and CNOOC good fortune and safe operations.”

According to CIMC, the rig – dubbed the world’s largest semi-submersible drilling unit – has already started drilling for CNOOC in the South China Sea.

Designed and built by CIMC Raffles, the Blue Whale I is 117 meters long, 92.7 meters wide, 118 meters high and weighs 43,000 tons.

The dynamically-positioned rig, built to Frigstad Engineering’s D90 design, is capable of operating in water depths up to 3,658 meters and drilling to a total depth of 15,240 meters.

The rig was one of two ordered by Frigstad Deepwater Ltd, a company that was jointly owned by Frigstad Offshore Group and CIMC, until late in 2016 Frigstad Offshore decided to exit from its investment in Frigstad Deepwater’s ordered newbuilds to position itself for the industry recovery.

As a consequence of the exit, Frigstad Deepwater Ltd became a wholly owned subsidiary of CIMC and was renamed CIMC Bluewhale Rig Ltd, while the operational management of the rigs was taken over by Bluewhale Offshore, another subsidiary of CIMC.