With a wealth of fast-expanding economies, Southeast Asia is a “growth engine” full of opportunities and challenges for the E&P industry, particularly in regards to the increasing demand for natural gas, Paul Atkinson, vice president of Talisman Vietnam, said at the 2010 IADC/SPE Asia Pacific Drilling Technology Conference, 1-3 November in Ho Chi Minh City.
In Vietnam, for example, Talisman already supplies 20% of the country’s gas for power generation and expects to grow its production there by 8% to 10% per annum. Along with acreage onshore and offshore Papua New Guinea and Indonesia, Vietnam’s Nam Con Son Basin is one of Talisman’s most important focus areas in Southeast Asia. Drilling programs in the deepwater Nam Con Son basin focus on gas exploration and fit in with PetroVietnam’s construction of significant power generation facilities onshore southern Vietnam, Mr Atkinson said.
To make the region successful in the long term, exploration well costs must be reduced. There must be “a high degree of emphasis on control of the well design and the cost of the well to deliver an efficient well as cheaply as possible,” he said.
Another challenge is access to competent and experienced personnel and to equipment and services – especially in deepwater areas. Even access to deepwater drilling rigs is not easy, he said. “It’s a challenge to access appropriate rigs if a company only has a modest program … maybe only one or two exploration wells to kick off an exploration program.”
Mr Atkinson added: “The region does not have many deepwater drilling rigs, and dayrates as a consequence of that are very high. We also have long planning cycles for deepwater wells. Therefore it’s a challenge to execute and maintain a program while maintaining costs low…. And exploration wells have to be maintained at low costs.”
One solution Talisman has tapped is to contract deepwater rigs as part of a rig-sharing group. In Indonesia, the establishment of the Makassar Strait Explorers Consortium allowed the company to pool resources and programs with other oil companies so they could bring in a deepwater rig. “Increasingly, a regional focus is needed for rig planning… Governments can help with this by recognizing that deepwater drilling is different to operating on the shelf, and they can take a leading role in expediting approvals for cross-border sharing,” Mr Atkinson urged.
Further, he advocated that governments should help companies to share expertise “by allowing the costs associated with sharing of learnings, sharing of resources between projects to be recoverable on projects.”
“Pooling regional resources promotes effective learning and the communication of best practices to lower well costs and times and improve efficiency,” he said.
To make the emerging deepwater basins of Southeast Asia successful, there also needs to be a strong interdisciplinary focus within each company to facilitate early access to knowledge. “I think the days are gone approaching well planning where G&G and drilling teams operate from silos within organizations and have difficulty communicating well objectives.”
“Traditionally in new basins, between companies we had tight hold with little sharing of information. I think, in the modern world, we find this is counterproductive to our need to identify to all relevant risks and effectively plan our wells and ensure safe operations. I think there is a good role here for the national oil companies, who can play a helpful and supporting role to help operators share such information and deliver on their goals to everybody’s mutual benefit.”