PTTEP eyes Middle East for onshore E&P acreage

PTT Exploration & Production PCL (PTTEP) said it plans to acquire certain upstream petroleum assets, mainly onshore, in Iran, Oman, and Bahrain.

By an OGJ correspondent

BANGKOK, July 16 -- PTT Exploration & Production PCL (PTTEP) said it plans to acquire certain upstream petroleum assets, mainly onshore, in Iran, Oman, and Bahrain. The majority Thai state-owned firm also is looking to obtain exploration and production stakes in three other countriesin the region—Qatar, Iraq, and Yemen—in addition to Sudan, although the priority to acquire assets in these nations are not as high as in the other prospect areas.

PTTEP Pres. Chitrapongse Kwangsuksith said the firm would likely make a decision about the acquisition in one of the three priority countries by yearend. The acquisition could involve more than $100 million in E&P costs over a period of time, he said. "These are the countries which offer great opportunities for us but are less accessible by major international oil firms, particularly American ones, because of political barriers," Chitrapongse said, referring to Iran, Iraq, and Yemen.

PTTEP has been consulting with Thailand's government as to whether it is politically correct for PTTEP to engage in business in those countries.

PTTEP's move to acquire the Middle East assets follows close on the heels of efforts made by other Asian oil companies, including Malaysia's Petronas, Indonesia's Pertamina, and India's Oil & Natural Gas Corp. It also forms part of PTTEP's plan to expand its business and diversify its production portfolio, which remains mostly natural gas-based, to focus more on oil.

In addition to the Middle East, the company is also looking to expand recently acquired assets in Viet Nam, Indonesia, and Myanmar, Chitrapongse said.

PTTEP last year bought a 34.17% stake in Medco Energi, one of the largest independent oil and gas producers in Indonesia (OGJ Online, Oct. 9, 2001). Also, in February, the firm committed as much as $50 million for 2 years of exploration work in Vietnamese waters.

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