China Petrochemical Corp., Sinopec announced its plan to build a gasoline filling station and a storage depot at its outpost in the disputed Paracels Island in the South China Sea to ramp up its fuel supplies, the company wrote on its official microblog, The Japan Times reported.

Sinopec is seeking to stretch out its civilian infrastructure in the disputed waterway and thus entrench its reach in the maritime Southeast Asia.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the construction of the oil-storage facility with the 2,000cm capacity is to take up to three months.

The announcement confirmed earlier reports from local authorities that Sinopec followed the state-owned oil company China National Offshore Oil Corp. into the area with intentions to ease fuel shortages.

China claims almost all of the energy-rich waters of the South China Sea with above $5t worth of maritime trade annually. The Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia and Taiwan have overlapping claims, The New Delhi TV website reported.

Meanwhile, in an additional reporting, Platts informed that China had more than doubled its crude reserves to 191.31m barrels in 2015, compared to 91.11m barrels in 2014.