Thailand's PTTEP sets sights on international growth

In an effort to broaden its international reach, Thai firm PTT Exploration & Production PCL (PTTEP) is seeking to engage in exploration activities in Viet Nam and Indonesia, in addition to Iran, where it is pursuing lease opportunities. At the same time, the company is striving to increase the proportion of oil in its gas-heavy reserves portfolio.

BANGKOK -- In an effort to broaden its international reach, Thai firm PTT Exploration & Production PCL (PTTEP) is seeking to engage in exploration activities in Viet Nam and Indonesia, in addition to Iran, where it is pursuing lease opportunities. At the same time, the company is striving to increase the proportion of oil in its gas-heavy reserves portfolio.

PTTEP, majority-held by state-owned Petroleum Authority of Thailand, revealed that it has already submitted a bid for Block 9-02 off southern Viet Nam. Block 9-02 is southeast of Big Bear, Viet Nam's major offshore producing oil field, and covers an area of more than 3,000 sq km, according to PTTEP executives.

PTTEP is also preparing bids for blocks off the northern coast of Java. And the company has already made known that it is finalizing a plan to bid for a number of onshore oil exploration blocks in western Iran as part of a plan to expand its upstream hydrocarbon business overseas (OGJ Online, June 12, 2000).

All these tracts are oil-prospective, in line with PTTEP's strategy to revamp its asset portfolionow heavily based on natural gas reserves, mostly in the Gulf of Thailand and Myanmar's Gulf of Martaban. PTTEP plans to increase its proportion of oil reserves to 15-20% from about 10% at present.

Over the next 5 years, the firm plans an investment of over 20 billion baht ($526 million) for exploration and production ventures in Thailand and overseas.

Iranian effort
A PTTEP delegation led by Pres. Chitrapongse Kwangsukstith was recently in Tehran to register PTTEP's interest in participating in the current licensing round and discuss PTTEP's participation in Iran's upstream sector with Iranian Deputy Minister of Oil Seyyed Mehdi Hosseini.

Chitrapongse said PTTEP is seriously pursuing oil exploration ventures in Iran, which offers low risks and good hydrocarbons prospects. PTTEP will spend the next few months investigating properties in depth and preparing a proposal for bidding for the Iranian blocks.

Chitrapongse has said the Iranian authorities are prepared to extend the deadline for the bid submission in the current licensing round to accommodate PTTEP's participation.

For the time being, PTTEP intends to bid on its own for the western Iranian acreage where it seeks to operate. At the same time, it is exploring the idea of joining other international oil companies already bidding for tracts in Iran's licensing round.

"The outlook for us receiving the concessions in these areas is good, since only a few players have applied to be our competitors," Chitrapongse said.

PTTEP's current overseas upstream assets include Blocks 46, 50, and 51 in Viet Nam and Yadana and Yetagun fields in the Gulf of Martaban. In Thailand, its assets are the Bongkot and Arthit gas blocks and one small onshore oil field known as PTTEP1. Through joint ventures with a number of international firms, it also holds stakes in the Pailin gas field, the S1 onshore oil producing acreage (Sirikit field), and E5 and Unocal III blocks.

As of the end of last year, the company had total proven reserves of 778 million boe.

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