Saturday January 19, 2013
Black gold strike
By STEPHEN THEN
MIRI: Rich deposits of crude oil and gas have been discovered in underground reserves onshore in the vicinity of this city.
This is the first time in about 25 years that the “black gold” has been found in such sizeable volume inland in Malaysia. The discovery by Petronas and Nippon Oil is poised to open up new frontiers in oil and gas exploration inland, with the possibility of more such discoveries here and the rest of northern Sarawak, said a delighted Miri MP Datuk Seri Peter Chin yesterday.
Chin, who is Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister, said he had been informed by Petronas executive vice president (Exploration and Production Business) Datuk Wee Yaw Hin yesterday that the national oil giant had announced the discovery of the oil and gas in Block SK 333 onshore of Sarawak, via the Adong Kecil West 1 well, some 20km northeast of the city.
“This is a discovery well drilled by Nippon Oil and it has yielded such a sizeable amount of oil and gas reserves. The drilling tests achieved a flow rate of 440 barrels of crude oil and 11.5 million standard cubic feet of gas per day.
“Actually, I have known for quite sometime that there will be such a find, because Miri still has a lot of untapped oil and gas underground.
“More than 20 years ago, the oil companies abandoned their onshore drilling operations and ventured offshore Sarawak because they found enormous amounts of oil and gas there,” he said.
Chin said the latest discovery showed that there might be still a huge amount of oil and gas inshore.
“This discovery is very exciting in that it will open up another frontier for oil and gas exploration on our shores.
“The potential of more of such inland discoveries is very high. It augurs well for future social and economic growth of Miri, of Sarawak and of the country because of the potential revenue that will come in to the national coffers. I was also informed by Petronas bosses that there are two other discoveries of oil and gas offshore Miri just recently,” he said.
He said sizeable reserves had been found offshore between Miri and Bintulu in the Guang North Gasfield, and another reserve in the SK307 Tukau Timur East field,” he said.
Chin said the new discoveries, es-pecially the one inland of Miri, showed that the Najib administration had been right in pushing for fresh drilling operations in areas that had not been given much attention before.
He said that under the Economic Transformation Programme, one of the key areas of focus was to try to tap for oil and gas in marginal areas.
“The focus was to carry out intensive drilling in oil fields that were considered marginal or that which had been abandoned long ago.
“This included drilling inland in places like Miri, which has the country’s first inland oil well on top of Canada Hill. The decision to drill again inland is starting to bear handsome results,” he said.
Chin said Petronas bosses had informed him that there would be more intensive drilling in more areas here, and they would open up more wells to get a more accurate picture of the quantity of oil and gas on land.
State leaders are also delighted with the news of the discovery.
Communications Assistant Minister Datuk Lee Kim Shin said the Nippon Oil top brass had informed him that the new discoveries would spur another socio-economic boom in northern Miri.
“They confirmed that they had discovered hydrocarbon reserves during a discovery drilling. They want to drill another discovery well to ascertain the exact volume of oil and gas inside and they will also carry out another seismic survey.
“Nippon Oil has not decided when the drilling for commercial production will start, but this discovery is a very good sign that there are better days ahead for the oil and gas industry in northern Sarawak,” he said.
Lee said any oil and gas boom would trigger a boom in food-retail, housing, air transportation, banking and other fronts, including the creation of more jobs in the supporting industries.
Petronas, in a press statement issued from the headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, said the last time such an onshore discovery was made was in 1989, in the Asam Paya Oilfield, also in Sarawak.