Harrods Resources expands in Southeast Asia

Harrods Natural Resources Inc., a company owned by Harrod's department store magnate Mohammed al Fayed, is moving to expand its petroleum prospecting ventures in Southeast Asia. It agreed to buy the remaining interest in Block B5/27 in the Gulf of Thailand, bringing its stake to 100%. The company has already drilled five wells on that concession.


BANGKOK�Harrods Resources, a company owned by Harrods department store magnate Mohammed Al Fayed, is moving to expand its petroleum prospecting ventures in Southeast Asia. It agreed to buy the remaining interest in Block B5/27 in the Gulf of Thailand, bringing its stake to 100%. The company has already drilled five wells on that concession.

Harrods agreed to pay $4 million to acquire a 37.50% stake in the oil-bearing Block B5/27 from PTT Exploration & Production PLC (PTTEP), an affiliate of the state-owned Petroleum Authority of Thailand. The agreement with PTTEP means that Harrods subsidiary Harrods Energy (Thailand) Ltd. has become the sole owner of the block, of which it previously owned 62.50% and was the operator.

PTTEP officials said the Thai firm decided to drop its interest in B5/27, which covers a 3,700 sq km area off the coast of Prachuab Khirikan, to reflect its new corporate directive to disengage from high-risk, limited-prospectivity operations. "We think the project may not be [commercially] viable, although oil has already been discovered there,'' said one official.

But Harrods seems to think otherwise. Five wells have been drilled in B5/27, with three showing flow rates of 1,000 b/d to 3,000 b/d. Combined flow rates from the wells totals more than 8,000 b/d.

The other reason behind PTTEP's decision to drop B5/27 is that it wants to concentrate its resources on exploring Arthit field on Blocks 14A, 15A, and 16A in the Gulf of Thailand, where it has made promising gas and condensate discoveries. Four of seven wells drilled there have been successful. The first wildcat, Arthit-15-1X, yielded 41 MMcfd of gas and 1,657 b/d of condensate; the second well, Arthit-15-2X, flowed 19.3 MMcfd and 115 b/d of condensate; the third well, Arthit-16-1X, tested at 64.9 MMcfd of gas and 1,688 b/d of condensate; and the latest well, Arthit-15-3X, gauged 63.4 MMcfd gas and 654 b/d of condensate.

PTTEP holds a 80% interest in the Arthit field, which is partly owned by Unocal Thailand Ltd. and Moeco Thailand Co.

In the past few years, Harrods Resources has been building its petroleum portfolio in Thailand, specifically in the Gulf of Thailand. Aside from B5/27, it also has stakes in Block 11/38, which contains the Chang Daeng field, estimated to hold gas reserves of 190 bcf; Block B12/32; and Block B2/38. Meanwhile, the firm has been studying opportunities to invest in Thailand's diamond mining and cement industries.

The Egyptian millionaire Al Fayed reportedly is also in negotiations with the Cambodian government to secure oil and gas drilling rights next to the central Tonle Sap lake. He held talks with Cambodian Premier Hun Sen last March, expressing his interest in exploiting two large basins that could contain hydrocarbon, according industry sources.

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