Interest Grows In Asia Pacific Offshore Projects
- Joel Parshall (JPT Features Editor)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- November 2011
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 40 - 48
- 2011. Copyright is held partially by SPE. Contact SPE for permission to use material from this document.
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The vast horizon of the Asia Paciﬁc offshore region is a diverse and dynamic arena for oil and gas development, one of contrasts, complexities, and challenges. While there is no overriding theme such as the tremendous reserves of the Middle East, or bold new story as in the Brazilian pre-salt or North American tight shale, Asia Paciﬁc offshore is one of the world’s most active hydrocarbon provinces. More than 55% of the global oil and gas heavy lift vessel ﬂeet* operated in the region at some point during 2010, according to IHS’ ODS-Petrodata unit. Asia Paciﬁc offshore has the resources, commitment of its resource owners, and economic drivers to remain a major factor in global petroleum development for decades.
It is tempting to view the Asia Paciﬁc offshore as one large emerging market. Yet it is more than that. Countries such as China and Vietnam, which once were closed to most outside capital investment, are clearly open for business. Future oil and gas growth opportunities—though not necessarily the same for both countries—appear to have few limits. But then there is Indonesia, which certainly ranks as a mature province. A longtime oil exporter, it withdrew from OPEC in 2008 after becoming a net importer. Yet Indonesia is anything but a fading star. Projects such as Gendalo-Gehem and Abadi have technologically sophisticated development plans to meet major technical and commercial challenges, and the East Natuna project targets gigantic natural gas reserves—although accompanied by massive levels of CO2. Success in these and other projects could help Indonesia move closer to self-sufﬁciency in petroleum supply.
Challenges of many types face offshore projects throughout the Asia Paciﬁc region. Industry interest in the area is “quite strong,” according to Dylan Mair, director of Far East information and insight at IHS. “Historically, the big companies moved out of Asia and into exciting places like Brazil,” he said. “What we will probably see in the near future is these IOCs (international oil companies) moving back in. You’ve seen some movement already with the independents. The supermajors have also gotten involved in unconventional hydrocarbon plays where there is a need for external expertise to assist the efforts of the NOCs (national oil companies).”
Not all of the challenging projects are large. The critical need for petroleum to fuel regional growth adds an incentive to unlocking ways of commercializing smaller, often remote accumulations of gas.
Angus Rodger, Southeast Asia upstream analyst at Wood Mackenzie, described the region’s project environment thusly: “The low-hanging fruit is gone, and newer developments are located in more remote, frontier areas, deeper waters or require tackling more challenging geology. Usually, all of these challenges come together.”
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