The government will pitch East Natuna block to investors following the withdrawal of contractor Exxon from a consortium comprising state-owned Pertamina and Thailand-based PTT EP.
“We will offer it to anyone interested. Whoever shows interest in East Natuna [will be] more than welcome,” Deputy Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Arcandra Tahar said yesterday.
Exxon was the concession holder of the East Natuna block since it was called the Natuna D-Alpha in 1980. Exxon’s operatorship of the block was ended in 2007. The government then assigned Pertamina to operate the East Natuna block, which is situated in the South China Sea.
In 2011, Pertamina came to a principle agreement to share the East Natuna operatorship with Exxon, Total and Petronas. The consortium was tasked with studying the economic value of drillings in the East Natuna block. In 2016, only Pertamina, Exxon and PTT EP remained in the consortium.
In mid-July last year, upon the completion of the study, Exxon withdrew from the consortium. Vice President of Public and Government Affairs of Exxon Erwin Maryoto has confirmed that the company had opted to discontinue its activity in the operatorship of the East Natuna block.
The East Natuna block holds 318 million stock tank barrels (mmstb) of oil and 222 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of gas. However, it would be difficult to develop the gas reserves due to its high carbon dioxide level of 72 percent.
Arcandra said that Exxon is not the only company that has the technology to develop gas in the East Natuna block. “There are several companies. But for now, [we will find] those who can offer the cheapest technology…”