China’s CNOOC and CGN to work together on development of portable marine nuclear reactor

State-controlled companies will work together to commercialise reactor technology

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 January, 2016, 9:46pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 January, 2016, 9:28am


China’s dominant offshore oil and gas producer has teamed up with the nation’s largest nuclear power plant developer to commercialise a new generation of small, portable, nuclear reactors, in a move that would answer Beijing’s call to use innovation to enhance corporate competitiveness.

The development of the small marine nuclear propulsion reactor by China General Nuclear Power, to be deployed to support offshore oil and gas production by China National Offshore Oil Corp, would help lower oil and gas production costs amid a severe energy price slump.

The research, development and promotion of the small modular nuclear reactor in offshore oil and gas fields
CNOOC chairman Yang Hua

“The research, development and promotion of the small modular nuclear reactor in offshore oil and gas fields will help lower resource development costs,” China National Offshore chairman Yang Hua said in a statement posted on the firm’s website Thursday, adding that cooperation has been ongoing for the past few years.

The small reactor, known as the ACPR50s, is designed to be secured on a ship than can be anchored near an offshore oil rig to help power up exploration activities.

The two state-owned energy giants will also cooperate on energy conservation technology, natural gas utilisation, off-power grid energy generation and distribution, he said.

China General Nuclear said in a separate statement on Tuesday that industry regulator National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) has approved its application for the ACPR50S marine-use small reactor’s development to be included in the nation’s 13th five-year economic plan.

“It signifies a major technological breakthrough by China General Nuclear in the development of its small offshore reactor,” it said. “ACPR50S is the company’s answer to Beijing’s call to build a strong marine nation, with our own research and development and our own design.”

It expects to start building the first demonstration plant next year and commission it by 2020.

It will have 200 mega-watt of annual power generating capacity, compared to 1,000MW to 1,600MW of the latest commercial conventional nuclear reactors being built.

Designed to be used in remote locations with different safety features, small modular reactors are part of a new generation of reactors being developed in various nations, including the United States, Canada, Japan and Russia.

The ACPR50S reactors can provide reliable electricity to support the energy needs of offshore oil and gas production, islands development and seawater desalination plants, China General Nuclear said.

The company is also developing another reactor called ACPR100 with 450MW of capacity, that can be deployed in large industrial parks and remote and hilly regions, to complement large nuclear reactors with 1,000MW of capacity that are being built in various provinces.

China General Nuclear is China and the world’s largest nuclear power plants developer. It has 16 reactors in operation with total installed capacity of 17,084MW, and 11 reactors with 13,464MW under construction.

It has signed an agreement with rival China National Nuclear Corp to set up a joint venture to develop and sell the self-developed “Hualong One” third-generation nuclear reactors both domestically and abroad.

China aims to have 58,000MW of installed annual nuclear power generating capacity by the end of 2020, from 24,400MW currently and 14,600MW at the end of 2013.