Exploration in the Far East Region has a very healthy glow at the moment. Significant petroleum related investments are being made in nearly part of the region. We are even seeing hither to aloof Governments such as those of Burma, Bangladesh, North Korea, etc. investigate the benefits of foreign investment to spur development of energy resources.
Major investments are being made by Asean countries such as Japan in other Asean countries in order to spur more rapid development of resources and to, inturn, secure a supply of energy within the region.
Petroleum related investments are being channeled into two areas, Petroleum related investments are being channeled into two areas, exploration for new hydrocarbon reserves and development or enhancement of existing reserves. The latter emphasis is as relative new phenomenon which has taken the form of "assistance contracts" in Bangladesh, Burma, Indonesia and recently India. Apparently the price of oil is such that these projects are, in certain economic circumstances perferable to straight exploration projects.
As far as geologic trends throughout the region are concerned we are in the midst of an exploration boom in the better known, petroliferous basins. However more and more newcomers are arriving on the scene. These entities are pushing back the preconceived frontiers in their competition for exploration acreage. The trend is towards more diverse exploration in lesser known basins and areas. Certainly this also means probing of deeper, older parts of the section in many areas.
Subcontinents such as India with approximately 25 land rigs compared to nearly 4000 in the United States or China with only 300 give one a sense of "room to play". Many explorationist are looking in Southeast Asia with that view. Exploration in Southeast is on the upswing. Geologic and geophysical data is being acquired at an unprecedented rate. Al these data indicates strongly that the region is a viable area in which to invest in the search for hydrocarbons.
The title of this presentation is "Exploration Trends in Southeast Asia - an Overview". It is mainly for those people who are here at this Conference and possibly in Southeast Asia for the first time. I will try to give you some insight into where things seem to be headed in terms of exploration investment and in terms of the physical locations where exploration is taking place. physical locations where exploration is taking place. Historically three areas in Southeast Asia have been focal points for exploration and development investments over the years; these are Indonesia, East Malaysa (Sabah and Sarawak) and Brunei. This profile hasn't really changed, these areas are still the most important profile hasn't really changed, these areas are still the most important producing areas in the region and our crystal ball says that this producing areas in the region and our crystal ball says that this trend will continue through the 80's.
In addition to the three "old timers", which still contribute most of the export oil in the Far East, a new, very significant trend is emerging. There is a rising current of hydrocarbon related investments in the "have not" nations. Furthermore, these investments seem to be ever increasingly on a government to government basis (Fig. 1). We see exploration acreage being taken by Taiwan's Chinese Petroleum Company in the Philippines and Indonesia. Korean Development Co. in Indonesia, Deminex in Indonesia and Vietnam, etc. Of course there is the ever present Japex and its companion companies everywhere in the Far East Region.,
The spread of exploration and other hydrocarbon related investments throughout Southeast Asia by Japex et al is worth noting in more detail. This pattern may well illustrate the future trend exploration and development expenditures will take throughout the area.
Japanese government sponsored companies in addition to normal exploration projects have recently undertaken reclamation projects in Indonesia where Pertamina operates for them under a low interest, non-recourse loan arrangement. They are becoming involved in a similar way with gas development in Bangladesh and oil and gas development in Burma and China. In each case the impetus appears to be to secure a supply of oil close to home rather than make a profit. In conjunction with these deals there is the inevitable use of Japanese made goods which expands their export markets and partially compensates for lower rates of return on hydrocarbon projects. This type of "assistance" financing of exploration and development projects appears to be the trend of the future for Southeast Asia. The willingness of Japanese Government sponsored companies to invest everywhere in the Asean Region is a direct response to the growing awareness that there are significant untapped resource opportunities relatively close to home. It probably also reflects an awareness of relatively stable political conditions throughout the region compared to other parts political conditions throughout the region compared to other parts of the oil producing world.
As pointed out before, historically exploration activity and investment have been heavily concentrated in petroliferous areas identified in the early 1900's or before. Spasmodic efforts have been made in other areas but these were relatively limited. The trend now appears to be for renewed efforts in little known areas and a much broader exploration effort across all of Southeast Asia. This trend is greatly aided by a positive change in attitude of a number of Asian governments towards foreign exploration investments.
Countries in the region which had at least a partial change of heart within the last two to three years with respect to foreign contractor involvement are for example Burma, Bangladesh. Philippines, North Korea, Sri Lanka and Thailand (Fig. 2). Each of these areas promises significant exploration opportunities for foreign contractors in future years.