Business / Economy

Deepwater base to burnish port's high-tech credentials

By LI WENFANG (China Daily) Updated: 2015-05-14 14:29

By the end of this year, the second phase of the CNOOC Zhuhai Deepwater Engineering Base is expected to be finished. By 2018, the base will be fully built, with an annual capacity of 230,000 metric tons.

It is the first deepwater engineering base in China and one of the world's largest, with total investment of 10.1 billion yuan ($1.63 billion), according to the company.

The first phase was completed in November last year.

Located in the Gaolan Port Economic Zone in Zhuhai, the base makes facilities for deepwater exploration of oil and natural gas, such as floating production storage and offloading equipment, deepwater floating platforms, semi-submersible drilling platforms and semi-submersible drilling vessels.

The production of offshore engineering equipment is shifting to China, and the base wants to add value through research and development.

The Gaolan zone also houses a base built by Sany Group Co Ltd, one of the country's largest heavy machinery manufacturers, for producing port and marine engineering facilities. There is also one built by Jutal Offshore Oil Services Ltd for making oil and gas facilities.

Marine engineering equipment manufacturing generated more than 13 percent of the output of the Gaolan zone last year, according to the zone's administration. Also last year, there were 15 new or expanded projects in that sector in the zone involving total investment of 9.9 billion yuan.

A national quality inspection and testing center for vessels and offshore engineering equipment materials is expected to open in the zone later this year.

The zone's administration has identified equipment manufacturing as an engine of economic growth, and it aims to become a leader in this industry. More broadly, Zhuhai has ambitions to develop advanced manufacturing, which includes the production of aircraft, yachts, electric vehicles and light-rail cars.

Compared with cities along the east bank of the Pearl River, Zhuhai recorded more moderate economic growth, which reflects the fact that it is further away from Hong Kong, said Wang Yanshi, deputy Party chief of the city.

Designated as a core city along the west bank of the Pearl River, the city's rise is gathering pace and Zhuhai enjoys some advantages from its relatively late development, such as tougher limits on low-end industries, he said.

The city draws support from the agreement on developing advanced equipment manufacturing along the west bank of Pearl River, which was signed last August between Guangdong's provincial government and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. The program covers Zhuhai, Foshan, Zhongshan and Yangjiang.

Zhuhai has released a blueprint for advanced equipment manufacturing, which set a goal of output from the sector at 190 billion yuan this year and 300 billion yuan in 2017.

The port gives Zhuhai an advantage in developing the equipment manufacturing industry, with a large industrial park already in place around Gaolan port, said Chen Guanghan, director of the Center for Studies of Hong Kong, Macao and the Pearl River Delta at Sun Yat-sen University.

The manufacturing of aircraft, vessels and offshore engineering equipment has shown robust momentum, he noted.

"Equipment manufacturing will facilitate the economic upgrading of Zhuhai and help raise the city's economic profile in the region," he said.

Chen suggested that Zhuhai enhance its core competitiveness in this industry by attracting research and development organizations and developing a platform for supporting innovation.

Sunbird Yacht Co runs facilities in a yacht manufacturing park in Gaolan zone, which has 18 yacht production companies and 30 component suppliers.

The company last year sold a 112-foot yacht to a client in Dubai, said Ding Liqiang, who works in the marketing department of the company.

The only listed yacht company in China, Sunbird registered output of more than 100 million yuan at the facilities in the park last year. It expects yacht sales in China to rise as consumers' wealth grows and they become more aware of the sport.

Italian luxury yacht manufacturer Ferretti Group SpA, which was acquired by Shandong Heavy Industry Group Co in 2012, signed an agreement last year to set up manufacturing facilities in the yacht park.

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