China’s Old Oil Guard Tap Offshore Expertise to Dabble in Wind

offshore wind farm
Teun van den Dries / Shutterstock

By Bloomberg News (Bloomberg) — China’s offshore oil and gas experts are dipping their toes in wind power, bringing their experience working on the ocean floor and adding a new twist to their portfolios.

Cnooc Ltd., the country’s top offshore oil explorer, said it wants to use its expertise in marine geology to replicate its success in the offshore wind sector. The company entered its first offshore wind project in Jiangsu province this month. China Oilfield Services Ltd. echoed that view, saying its experience operating in deep waters offers a competitive advantage as the company looks for more contracts in offshore wind services.

“When we see opportunities in building offshore wind farms, we know immediately it would be an easy task for us,” Qi Meisheng, chairman of China Oilfield, told reporters on Thursday. “We know offshore geology, we know how to drill and we know how to make the process go as smoothly as it can be.”

China is turning to renewable power to aid its fight against the pollution that blights the world’s most populous nation. Wind is the country’s third-largest source of energy behind coal and hydro.

Consultancy Wood Mackenzie Ltd. predicts an almost 10-fold surge in China’s offshore wind capacity to 33 gigawatts by 2027. Government targets will drive development, but the lack of technical expertise will present a hurdle, said Robert Liew, a senior analyst at Woodmac.

Ordinary developers will face difficulties operating in water depths of more than 50 meters, China Oilfield’s Qi said, adding the company had already worked on small-scale offshore wind projects last year.

“The offshore wind sector is most compatible with our operations among the various types of clean energy,” Cnooc Chief Executive Officer Yuan Guangyu told reporters on Wednesday. “We have a lot of experience, ability and infrastructure that can be applied to offshore wind development.”

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