Friday, July 21, 2023

China begins drilling another 10,000-metre hole. Here's what it is searching for

China begins drilling another 10,000-metre hole. Here's what it is searching for

For the second time, China has started drilling a 10,000-metre hole in the ground aiming to discover ultra-deep reserves of natural gas. On Thursday (July 20), China National Petroleum Corp started drilling the Shendi Chuanke 1 Well in Sichuan province which will have a designed depth of 10,520 metres (6.5 miles), reported Xinhua News Agency.

The project will have a similar-sized well compared to that which CNPC started drilling in Xinjiang in May and was called the deepest-ever hole ever drilled by China. 

The exploration of Chuanke-1 Well, which falls under the Deep Earth drilling project, is part of a wider infrastructure to “provide an important foundation and support for China’s future scientific research and oil and gas resource development”, reported state news outlet China Electric Power News.

Although the well was earlier described as experimental in nature, the project has now been designed to provide data on the internal structure of Earth and test drilling technologies as the Sichuan is aiming to discover the ultra-deep reserves of natural gas, as per Xinhua.

The southeastern province of Sichuan is famous for spectacular mountain views, spicy food and pandas, and is also home to some of the largest shale gas reserves in China.

Enhancing China's fuel security

The state-owned oil giants of the nation have achieved only little success in tapping their potential mainly because of complicated underground geology and difficult terrain.

The government of China has placed pressure on energy companies in the last few years to enhance the country's fuel security by increasing domestic production amid a series of geopolitical strife, global price volatility and power shortages.

The team, meanwhile, is aiming to collect geological information from a depth of 10,000 metres to upgrade theories regarding oil and gas accumulation, and make an international and first-class technical team in the country, said deputy manager of the project Ding Wei, as per the report in China Electric Power News.

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“The 10,000-metre-deep exploration project is a ‘major national project’ comparable to the lunar exploration project,” the report quoted Ding as saying.

The engineers are needed to overcome “world-class challenges” amid the drilling process due to the complex underground conditions.

Beyond 10,000 metres, the metal drilling tools can become “as soft as noodles” due to the temperature of 224 degrees Celsius (435 Fahrenheit), and the 138 MegaPascal ultra-high pressure environment was like “diving into the deep sea of 13,800 metres, far exceeding the seawater pressure of the Mariana Trench, the deepest ocean in the world”, said chief engineer Yang Yu, while speaking to China Electric Power News.

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