(MENAFN) China's National Energy Administration expected natural gas production from South China Sea to hit 15 billion cubic metres (bcm) by 2015, Reuters reported.
The governmental entity said in its 2011-2015 plan for South China Sea would "form the main part" of the country's offshore gas exploration plans.
China is in dispute with several of its neighbours over claims to parts of the oil and gas-rich sea, including the Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia. China lays claim to almost the whole of the sea.
The energy administration did not indicate which particular parts of the sea it intended to exploit for gas.
The administration also estimated China's total offshore output to reach 20 bcm by 2015. Total national production is expected to be 176 bcm by 2015, including 138.5 bcm of conventional natural gas. Output last year reached 102 bcm.
In August, China's largest offshore oil producer CNOOC has invited foreign companies to explore for oil and gas in 22 blocks in the South China Sea region.
Last month, CNOOC said it found a "big" gas field in the sea's Yinggehai basin, which the company was currently evaluating.