CHINESE rig-builder CIMC Raffles launched China’s first semi-submersible drilling rig capable of operating in the Arctic area earlier this year.

Assembled in the company’s Yantai shipyard for North Sea Rigs, the North Dragon is designed to operate in water depths of between 500 metres and 1,200 metres and drill to depths of 8,000 metres.

Based on a GM4-D design, the rig is equipped with Rolls & Royce power system, Kongsberg DP3 dynamic positioning system, Siemens electronic control system and NOV drilling system.

It also features an offline stand building system, which can connect three drill-pipes or risers together without the need to halt drilling operations, while also adopting a horizontal automatic Hydraracker design, which the company said increases drilling efficiency by 15%.

CIMC Raffles said it had reduced the heave motion response amplitude of the rig through improving operation draft and increasing the static air gap of the unit, while also improving unit motion performance and increasing operations uptime.

Rig owner Stephen Adshead, of NorthSeaRigs, said the rig was designed to be capable of many tasks and to perfirm complex work operations.

“The North Dragon reflects nearly 10 years of working on the design of harsh environment semi-submersible rigs that target the North Sea and incorporates the lessons learned from one project to the next,” he said.

“The rig is the latest generation in a long list of rigs which CIMC Raffles has built successfully.”

The upper hull of GM4-D North Dragon was launched successfully on 12 January, 2015, while its lower hull was launched on 30 October 2014.

CIMC Raffles said it had made an historic breakthrough in regional integrity and completion of MC before bringing the two portions of the rig together, which it said would lay a firm foundation for the main engine starting, load test and other works in the future.

Following assembly, the North Dragon is planned to be delivered in December 2015, where it will operate in the Barents Sea.

Beacon Atlantic, the second GM4-D rig of the same series, is currently under construction, with the contract of Beacon Pacific, the third rig, soon to come into effect.

As planned, they will be delivered in December 2016 and December 2017 separately.