China's Ministry of Land and Resources, state energy giant China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) and Guangdong province have agreed to build a pilot methane hydrate project in the South China Sea, CNPC said its website on Monday.
The trial prospecting of the deep-sea gas resource, also known as "flammable ice", will be in the Shenhu area of the South China Sea, after initial tests run in May, CNPC said.
The report did not give further details on the timeline or financial investment on developing this pilot project. Methane hydrates are gas frozen into ice-like crystals buried deep under the oceans. Japan is also trying to develop the potential fuel sources in its own seas.
Experts say commercial development could be beyond 2030.
A drilling platform deployed for 60 days off the coast of the southeastern Chinese city of Zhuhai earlier this year produced a total of 309,000 cubic metres of natural gas, the land ministry said in July.
The government said it would "actively develop" methane hydrate over the 2016-2020 period, although industry experts have said there is no technology yet to commercially unlock the potential energy source.
(Reporting by Chen Aizhu; Editing by Tom Hogue)