Malaysia is showing promise for the oil and gas industry as new natural gas finds could boost already high production levels and improve export potential in Southeast Asia.
This February, Thailand’s PTT Exploration & Production (PTTEP) announced its biggest gas find to date, off the coast of Malaysia. The discovery was made in partnership with Kuwait’s KUFPEC and Malaysia’s Petronas Carigali Sdn. Bhd.
The discovery was made in Lang Lebah-1RDR2, in the SK 410B Block, where exploration first commenced in 2019, around 90km off the shore of Sarawak, Malaysia. The company drilled to 4,320 metres, finding 600 metres of net gas pay, with a flow rate of around 50 million cubic feet of gas daily. This flow is far higher than initial estimates, showing the potential value of Malaysia’s biggest find.
KUFPEC CEO Shaikh Nawaf Saud Al-Sabah stated of the find, "This successful world-class gas discovery is a testament to our steadfast efforts to maximise the value to our shareholder by exploring for hydrocarbons in highly prolific basins”.
“This remarkable discovery is a testimony to Malaysia’s highly prolific basins and demonstrates the tremendous untapped exploration potential, as witnessed in this world-class super basin in offshore Malaysia”, added Mohamed Firouz Asnan of Petronas SVP.
This points towards the long-term growth of PTTEP and partners in this largely untapped region. The find builds on the Malaysia-Thailand Joint Development Area, known commonly as the JDA.
The Malaysia-Thailand Joint Authority (MTJA) oversees the management of an area of 7,250 sq. km where the continental shelf overlaps between Malaysia and Thailand. The authority ensures the two countries work together in the exploration and exploitation of non-living natural resources, especially petroleum, managing production sharing contracts.
The new gas field builds upon Malaysia’s already successful oil and gas industry. Since 2019, Malaysia has been the second-largest producer of oil and natural gas in Southeast Asia, as well as the fifth-largest exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in the world.
Majors including ExxonMobil, Shell, and ConocoPhillips all have a stake in the country’s oil and gas industry. To develop the sector and boost the national economy, the Malaysian government has focused mainly on increasing hydrocarbon production through upstream investment and exploration in recent years.
However, it’s not been clear sailing for Malaysia as it had to deal with the 2020 drop in demand in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, much like many other countries around the world.
A difficult year culminated in Shell announcing the reshaping of its Malaysia business model away from upstream business in January. This will see the cutting of 250-300 jobs. Having focused on upstream business alongside government efforts over the last decade, Shell will now move away from this area, continuing to concentrate on downstream business and existing offshore deep-water operations.
While Malaysia’s oil industry remains relatively stable after a turbulent 2020, it is the new gas find that shows promise for the country’s future in production and exportation. Oil majors are likely to use this discovery to promote their operations in the Southeast Asian region, thanks to the promise of the new discovery.
By Felicity Bradstock for Oilprice.com
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