Tue, Jun 04, 2019 - Page 12 News List

Nation’s first homegrown drilling vessel unveiled

By Natasha Li  /  Staff reporter

The Polaris Australis is moored at the National Kaohsiung University of Science and Technology’s Cijing campus harbor yesterday.

Photo: Huang Pei-chun, Taipei Times

Taiwan’s first locally designed and built drilling vessel, the Polaris Australis, was yesterday revealed at the National Kaohsiung University of Science and Technology’s Cijing campus.

Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners K/S (CIP) and Dragon Prince Hydro-Survey Enterprise Co (銓日儀) unveiled the vessel, which cost about NT$500 million (US$15.87 million) and was jointly funded by Dragon Prince and Pan Formosa Engineering Co (環島工程).

Dragon Prince said that construction of the vessel, which was designed by Jong Shyn Shipbuilding Co (中信造船), was completed at the end of last year.

University vice president Yu Ker-wei (俞克維) said that the institute provided training to the vessel’s crew.

CIP Taiwan also provided training by foreign experts on several areas throughout the vessel’s construction, project office director Marina Hsu (許乃文) told the Taipei Times by telephone.

The training program spanned three months, and included courses on equipment calibration and dynamic positioning as well as health, safety and environmental regulations, Hsu said, adding that local companies often fail to conform to such requirements.

“This is a very special case,” Hsu said of the risk that the companies faced in building the vessel.

“Normally a company would start building a vessel once it has at least five orders,” Hsu said.

However, Dragon Prince and Pan Formosa launched the project even though they did not have a single order, she said.

CIP has placed an NT$80 million order with Pan Formosa to use the vessel in its drilling trials starting this month off Changhua County to install pipelines for its planned wind farms.

Local companies are willing to take risks by betting on the success of such projects, Hsu said, adding that the government should provide more support in areas such as finance and negotiations to accelerate the localization of the wind power industry supply chain.

The government has banned foreign vessels from drilling the seabed within the nation’s territorial waters, citing security concerns.

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