China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) has made a new hydrocarbon discovery in an ultra-shallow gas play in ultra-deep water in the South China Sea.

The Chinese state-owned oil and gas giant describes the discovery as “a major exploration breakthrough”.

Located in an average water depth of approximately 1,500m, the discovered Lingshui 36-1 gas field has been tested.

Testing has shown production of more than 10mcm/d of open flow natural gas.

CNOOC deputy chief exploration officer Xu Changgui said: “The exploration in ultra-deep water ultra-shallow gas plays in the South China Sea is faced with world-class engineering and technical challenges.

“The successful testing of Lingshui 36-1 is a breakthrough for the exploration in such plays. The company will continue to tackle the challenges on the exploration and development of the resources in such plays, to expedite the utilisation of natural gas in deep waters.”

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The field’s main gas-bearing play is the Ledong formation of Quaternary age, with an average burial depth of 210m.

CNOOC CEO and president Zhou Xinhuai said: “South China Sea has been a major region for the company to boost natural gas reserves and production.

“The successful testing of Lingshui 36-1 further expands the resource base for the development of a trillion-cubic-metres gas region in South China Sea. CNOOC Limited will continue to step up exploration and development of hydrocarbon resources in South China Sea and to enhance our capacity of energy supply.”

Earlier this year, CNOOC made a significant discovery at the Qinhuangdao 27-3 oilfield in the Bohai Sea.

Situated in the north-central waters of the Bohai Sea, the oilfield has an average water depth of around 25m.