Headline Dec 06, 2014/


CLUSTERED,  around the southern city of Busan,  South Korea,    ''the mighty three'' :

Samsung Heavy Industries,  Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering, and Hyundai Heavy Industries  are churning out the world's biggest container ships:

400 metres long,  or 1462 feet, is  almost half the height of Scafell Pike, England's tallest mountain; and some of the largest oil rigs, yet built.

But size isn't everything. Just as impressive, and more important commercially, are four  ''ultra deepwater''  drill-ships coming off the line at Samsung Heavy Industries.

Commissioned by a Danish shipping giant, Maersk, the first one has just been christened: Viking, appropriately enough. 

AS INLAND AND COASTAL wells dry after decades of exploitation,  oil firms are being forced farther out to sea, and ships like  Viking, which will be used by Exxon Mobil, are designed to meet their requirements.

Viking can operate in  3,000 meters of water,  -and then drill down through another 12,000 meters of earth   -more than the height of mount Everest.

The centre piece of the vessel is the  derrick,  which is over 60 metres high. But the most advanced bits of kit are probably the six thruster engines. The engineers claim that they can keep the ship steady and drilling even in waves up to 9 metres.  

Sokjee Lee,  an analyst at J.P.Morgan in Seoul, explains that shipbuiding is nowadays a  ''design and quality''  business rather than a labour driven one, and South Korean firms, once a lower-cost alternative to their European rivals-

Have spent wisely in becoming more technically sophisticated. Each of the big Korean yards has thousands of  in-house designers and engineers.

This has made them  world leaders  in the new generation of  fuel-efficient, cheap-to-run  ''eco-ships''.

China's yards have focused instead on offering customers, low prices and irresistible financing deals. Sometimes they demand as little as  10%  of the cost on signing a contract,  leaving the other  90%  until delivery.

Yet the ruthless competitiveness has not won them a decent share of the lucrative offshore market. Here quality, efficiency and sticking to delivery dates are at a premium, and Chinese yards still score poorly on all counts.

A recent report from CLSA, a stockbroker, concludes that China is still  ''far behind the Koreans in the market for offshore vessels.''  Even worse, China will soon loose much of its advantage on price, CLSA estimates:

That labour costs in the yards are rising by  10-15%  a year, while productivity remains low.

Singapore's two main yards, Keppel  and SemCorp Marine, have also invested heavily in quality and efficiency. They specialise more in deep-sea rigs than in drill ships and carriers.

Keppel, the bigger of the two, is building a record of  20 such monsters. This year it will deliver the first of three giant,  $600 million  ''jack-up''   rigs  -ones hat are floated into place and jacked up on their legs.

The Singaporeans are also good at building things on time, which is vital in an industry where late delivery can cost the operators of rigs and drill-ships over $500,000 a day.

Over the past five years, rigs ordered from Keppel and SembCorp were, on average, delivered ahead of schedule, whereas Chinese yards delivered  50-250 days late, says  IHS Petrodata, a research firm.

No dark-cloud on the horizon for these Engineering giants. As long as the crude price is above $80 a barrel-  

The big oil firms will have the money and the incentive to keep developing Deepwater fields, and thus to keep ordering its rigs.

Obviously, the Korean and Singaporean yards have adapted well to China's challenge and engineering might.

With respectful dedication to all the Students, Professors and Teachers in the field of Engineering. See Ya all on !WOW!  -the World Students Society Computers-Internet-Wireless:

''' The Archimedes Principle '''

'''Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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