Manufacturing News

Marine engineering equipment industry set to expand this year

China's offshore engineering equipment industry is expected to grow substantially this year on the back of a fast-growing marine economy, cost competitiveness and technological advancements, said market watchers and industry sources.

They said the marine engineering equipment industry has seen solid breakthroughs in recent years as it transitions from a period when focus was on marine oil and gas to a new phase where emerging marine power generation is considered critical.

Marine engineering vessels will continue to serve as a primary driving force in the marine equipment market this year, experts said.

The offshore equipment market in China has already reached a certain scale, encompassing various areas like marine engineering ships, oil rigs, offshore wind power installation vessels, marine engineering heavy-lift ships and offshore platform supply vessels, said Lu Huawei, a professor specializing in offshore engineering equipment manufacturing at Dalian Maritime University in Liaoning province.

For example, there has been a notable increase in global demand for offshore wind installation vessels, and Chinese manufacturers have secured nearly 90 percent of these orders, data from the China Association of the National Shipbuilding Industry showed.

As of October, there were 37 worldwide orders for offshore wind installation vessels, with Chinese shipyards bagging as many as 33 of them.

From a product structure perspective, China's marine equipment market boasts significant diversity, capable of catering to various marine resource development needs across different fields and water depths, said Chen Xinhua, vice-president of Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries Qidong Marine Engineering Co Ltd, a Nantong, Jiangsu province-based manufacturer.

He predicted that auxiliary vessels, such as heavy-lift and offshore support vessels, will have high utilization rates and market demand this year. These vessels, which are not primarily used for navigation but rather for offshore operations and services, are expected to be increasingly vital to the industry.

CIMC Jiguang Marine Technology (Yantai) Co Ltd, a Yantai, Shandong province-based offshore engineering product manufacturer and a subsidiary of Shenzhen, Guangdong province-headquartered China International Marine Containers (Group) Co Ltd, plans to deploy more resources to develop semi-submersible offshore photovoltaic power generation platforms this year.

"Our semi-submersible offshore photovoltaic power platform, which is larger than four basketball courts, can generate up to 400 kilowatts of electricity per hour. It is able to provide power to nearby offshore platforms," said Pan Xi, the company's president.

China has about 710,000 square kilometers of eligible offshore areas for the development of solar photovoltaic installations, with an estimated potential capacity exceeding 70 gigawatts, he said, noting that compared to land, the solar irradiance on the sea surface is higher.

China's marine power industry saw newly connected capacity and electricity generation of offshore wind power surge 14.8 percent and 19.2 percent year-on-year, respectively, in the first three quarters of 2023, data from the Ministry of Natural Resources showed.

China's offshore engineering product market is closely tied to demand for energy, particularly oil and natural gas. The future growth of the market will depend on energy needs of both domestic and global markets, said Xu Weidong, a member of the expert committee at Shandong Electric Power Engineering Consulting Institute Corp Ltd.

Echoing that sentiment, Feng Xuebao, secretary-general of the Shanghai Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers, said that with the advancement of deepwater oil and gas exploration technologies and the resurgence of oil prices, deepwater oil and gas development will emerge as a crucial direction for the future growth of the marine economy.

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