Chinese operator CNOOC Ltd has begun to study development options for its large Yongle 8 natural gas discovery in the South China Sea's deep-water Qiongdongnan basin, with one proposal pointing to the use of a semi-submersible production platform.

Sources said that CNOOC Ltd is unlikely to consider an alternative option of deploying a floating liquefied natural gas vessel as it would be costly, and China is not technically ready to build such a vessel on its own.

A more likely scenario is to build a deep-water semi-submersible platform that will treat the gas and also be equipped with facilities to store condensate.