China's CNOOC Ltd is poised to invest aggressively in oil and gas exploration in the South China Sea from now until 2025, targeting a significant production boost in its western area.

CNOOC Zhanjiang, the local company responsible for E&P in the western South China Sea, has budgeted annual spending of 16 billion yuan ($2.25 billion), part of which will go towards drilling 50 exploration and production wells over the next six years.

A senior Zhanjiang official told media in China last week that from now until 2025, the company will put 14 offshore oil and gas fields into operation, which will be able boost production by 60 million to 80 million barrels of oil equivalent, up from the current output of approximately 73.5