Practical Measures To Promote Exploration in Developing Countries
- H. Masood Sohall (Pakistan Petroleum Ltd.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- October 1991
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 1,246 - 1,251
- 1991. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 4.6 Natural Gas, 4.2 Pipelines, Flowlines and Risers, 1.6 Drilling Operations, 1.14 Casing and Cementing
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Since 1950, Pakistan has gone through several phases of hydrocarbonexploration, but despite our geologically prospective areas, our discovery anddevelopment of substantial reserves, and our existing infrastructurefacilities, exploration has been limited. We attribute this limited explorationto the absence of long-term gas-development strategies, to the gas-priceformula, and to legislative and contractual frameworks for concessionagreements in use for most of our exploration history. This paper examinesPakistan's exploration history and reveals current gas-development strategies.It also discusses the revised pricing formula and legislation to benefit otherdeveloping countries that are in similar situations and want to accelerate thepace of their exploration activities.
Pakistan has a large sedimentary area that Pakistan has a large sedimentaryarea that comprises two basinsthe Indus and the Baluchistanand covers more thanthree-fourths of the total onshore area (greater than 235,926 sq miles) andapproximately 83,404 sq miles offshore. Exploration efforts to date, however,have been relatively modest compared with the sizes of the prospective areas.The first commercial oil discovery was made in 1915 at Khaur oil field innorthern Pakistan. Indigenous oil production is Pakistan. Indigenous oilproduction is currently (May 1991) about 60,000 B/D, but the country is not yetself-sufficient. Fortunately, during the 1950's, large quantities of naturalgas reserves were discovered. The first and largest gas discovery was the Suigas field. Discovered in 1952 by the Burmah Oil Co./Pakistan Petroleum Ltd.,Sui is the main source of gas supply in Pakistan. Over the years gasproduction, which currently (May 1991) stands at about 1,500 MMcf/D, has becomea major factor in Pakistan's economy. A well-developed gas Pakistan's economy.A well-developed gas transportation and distribution system has been laid andis being expanded. This paper reviews the Pakistani petroleum exploration anddevelopment petroleum exploration and development experience, especially withregard to the gas industry, for the benefit of other developing countries. Thefactors responsible for our limited past exploration activity are identifiedand recommendations are made to help accelerate this pace.
Petroleum exploration in Pakistan can be Petroleum exploration in Pakistancan be divided into three distinct phases based on the pace of explorationactivity. Phase 1 began in 1951 with the discovery of the Sui gas field. With8.624 Tcf of recoverable gas, this discovery provoked extensive explorationactivity that resulted in the discovery of six more gas fields in the 1950's:Zin (1954), Uch (1956), Khairpur (1957), Mari (1957), Mazarani (1959), andKandhkot (1959). Sui was the first field developed to supply gas to Pakistaniindustries, which originally used imported oil and coal as their feed stock andfuel. Commercial production from Sui began in 1955. Phase 2 began in the 1960'swhen a low wellhead gas price for existing producers and low incentive levelsfor new producers caused a decline in exploration activities. A steep rise inthe gas demand, however, was observed during this phase, primarily because ofthe low gas price. Phase 2 lasted until the 1980's, with the only increase inexploration occurring in 1975 when seven wells were drilled. Explorationactivity increased again when the demand for gas exceeded the availableproducers capacity and the supply system. producers capacity and the supplysystem. The importance of natural gas was then realized, and its price,development, and utilization strategies were revived. Consequently, explorationand appraisal activities revived, and Phase 3 began with a record number ofexploratory wells being drilled 20 in 1984 and 21 each in 1988 and 1989. Fig. 1shows Pakistan's drilling record from 1950 to 1990. Pakistan's explorationhistory indicates the importance of planning exploration activities at anoptimal level to meet a country's requirements. Our experience is also a richsource for developing countries with similar constraints on explorationactivities.
Factors Affecting Exploration Activities
The variety of trends cited in our exploration history, along with theircorresponding causes and effects, identity a number of factors that hinder notonly the rise but also the consistency of exploration activities. Some of thesefactors are discussed in the following sections.
Long-Term Development Strategy. During the 1950's little thought was givento any future supply problems. The Sui field was large, had relatively smalloff-takes (100 MMscf/D), and gave ns a comfortable feeling of having aninexhaustible supply of gas. Although exploration activities were intense andequally fruitful during this time, no field development was carried out exceptat Sui. This lack of planning became apparent in 1964, when only the Sui fieldwas available to support a steep rise in market demands.
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