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The sixth-generation semi-submersible and China's first deep-sea drilling platform owned by China National Offshore Oil Corporation or CNOOC. The drilling rig went into formal operations on May 9 2012 in a sea area 320 km southeast of Hong Kong at a water depth of 1,500 meters. Equipped with third-generation dynamic and global positioning systems, the CNOOC 981 can withstand vibrations brought by "once-in-two-centuries storms." Its underwater blow-out prevention system can efficiently prevent accidents like the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The 31,000 ton platform cost 6 billion yuan (952 million U.S. dollars) and took more than three years to build. It measures 114 meters long, 90 meters wide and 137.8 meters high, with a deck the size of a standard football field. The rig is capable of undertaking an offshore operation at a maximum water depth of 3,000 meters and drilling a depth of 12,000 meters.

Depths greater than 300 meters are internationally recognized as deep waters and those greater than 1,500 meters are ultra-deep waters. Globally, 30 to 40 percent of marine resources are buried in deep waters and about half of major exploration sites are developed offshore.

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