Chinese operator Sinopec has drilled a successful wildcat well in the South China Sea’s Beibu Gulf, paying the way for the first oil next year.

The company, via its offshore outfit Sinopec Shanghai Offshore Oil & Gas Branch Company, declared the side-tracked Wei 10 well flowed commercial volumes of oil and has met reserves expectation.

Industry sources told Upstream that the well drilled by semi-submersible rig Kantan IV, could hold potential reserves of “several million tonnes of light oil”.

The company “in the near future” aims to build an annual crude production capacity of 500,000 tonnes (100,000 barrels per day) at the Weizhou block where Wei 10 was drilled.