China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), the country's largest offshore oil producer, has signed two production-sharing contracts with Shell to explore oil fields in the South China Sea.

The fields lie in the Yinggehai basin off China's Hainan Island.

CNOOC can take up to 51 percent of equity interest in commercial oil and gas discoveries.

Meantime, CNOOC is also planning to buy Canada's Nexen for over 15 billion U.S. dollars. 

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