Chinese yard CIMC Raffles has clinched a deal to convert a semi-submersible accommodation unit that once worked offshore Brazil for Petrobras into a floating facility to target the tourism industry in China.
The flotel specialist has struck an agreement with local culture and tourism entity Yantai Yeda Cultural Tourism Group that will see the pair set up a joint venture to build and operate the floating pleasure pursuits facility off the coast of Yantai city in eastern China's Shandong province.
The innovative project is seen as a way of giving a new lease of life to offshore units that have seen opportunities in the oil and gas sector dry up due to the industry downturn amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has hit global energy demand.
CIMC Raffles will convert the semisub accommodation and crane unit OOS Prometheus into the facility, which will house commercial facilities as well as tourists.
The 2013-built unit owned by CIMC will house the Mirage – Yantai Bajiaowan Maritime Art City, which will be deployed two kilometres from shore in a water depth of 15 metres.
CIMC Raffles said the unit will be made into a “unique super cultural tourist” attraction and will include an art hotel, a culture museum, a commercial complex and other tourist facilities.
The remodified unit, which will be completed in the first half 2023, will carry a total weight of 30,000 tonnes and will be able to withstand typhoons of up to force 12 strength, the yard said.
The living quarters will be converted into 108 hotel rooms capable of accommodating a total of 400 people.
The deck area — measuring 80 by 70 metres — will host art galleries and museums that will present regular art exhibitions.
The crane, with 1500-tonnes of lifting capacity, will be retooled to allow for bungee jumping.
CIMC Raffles will, via the joint venture, launch sporting activities such as sailing, wind surfing and motor boating off the floating city.
The ABS-classed, Marshall Islands-flagged unit was marketed by Dutch flotel operator OOS International in late 2013, entering into service for Petrobras in Brazil on a four-year charter in March in 2014.
The flotel has been moored at the CIMC Raffles yard in Yantai since late 2018 after failing to secure further employment.