South China Sea Energy Exploration and Development

The U.S. Energy Information Agency estimates that the South China Sea holds about 190 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 11 billion barrels of oil in proved and probable reserves, most of which lie along the margins of the South China Sea rather than under disputed islets and reefs. The U.S. Geological Survey in 2012 estimated that there could be another 160 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 12 billion barrels of oil undiscovered in the South China Sea. Beijing’s estimates for hydrocarbon resources under the sea are considerably higher but still modest in relation to China’s overall demand—the country’s oil consumption in 2018 is expected to top 12.8 million barrels per day.

Explore the energy blocks of the South China Sea. Hover over a block to see the block name, and click it for more information including resource type, operator, and production status. Zoom in and out with the + and – buttons, move around the map by clicking and dragging, and use the menu to toggle the oil and gas licensing blocks and claims of each country. Claim lines depicted are continental shelf claims based on a claimant’s international agreements, domestic legislation, and public submission of claims, as well as the nine-dash line of the People’s Republic of China.

Data was gathered from publicly available sources, including the Oil and Gas Year, DrillingInfo, IHS Markit, Shell International E&P, and the Department of Energy of the Philippines.

This map is a work in progress, and many blocks have incomplete information. If you know of a source that can help fill in any missing information, please reach out to