State-owned China National Offshore Oil Corp. announced it started production at the Liuhua 19-5 natural gas field at the basin of the Pearl River near the South China Sea. The company said Tuesday the field should hit its peak production rate of 29 million cubic feet per day later this year.
CNOOC holds a 100 percent stake in the field and serves as its operator.
A country profile of China from the U.S. Energy Information Administration said CNOOC puts development of the Pearl River basin near the top of its priority list. Offshore, China produced about 200 billion cubic feet of natural gas per year in 2011, the last full year for which data are available, EIA said.
China's expanding economy means it's one of the largest energy consumers in the world.