Petronas and its Petroleum Arrangement Contractors (operators) in Malaysia this year have notched up a combined 10 discoveries on the back of buoyant exploration drilling, with the star of the show being Petronas Carigali’s significant Nahara find.

“The year 2022 has been a good year for exploration in Malaysia. I am very pleased with the increased exploration activities where 16 wells were completed, with two more in progress, doubling 2021’s figure,” said Petronas senior vice president of Malaysia Petroleum Management (MPM), Mohamed Firouz Asnan.

“Our 60% success ratio validates the prolific nature of the Malaysian basins. Most of the discoveries can be quickly monetised at a lower cost given their proximity to the extensive network of existing infrastructure.”

Next year could deliver even greater success with as many as 30 exploration wells planned in 2023 as players continue to ramp up activity following the approximate two-year hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Eight oil and gas discoveries this year were made off the coast of Sarawak, East Malaysia and one apiece offshore Sabah and offshore Peninsular Malaysia.

“The largest oil discovery was made by Petronas Carigali at the Nahara-1 well in Block SK 306 within Sarawak’s Balingian province,” Petronas confirmed on Thursday.

Discoveries were also made in Sarawak’s Central Luconia, Western Luconia and Baram provinces, which are among Malaysia’s most prolific basins and home to many gas fields in the country.

Within Central Luconia, UK supermajor Shell had discoveries at the Inai-1 and Temu-1 wells on the MLNG Block, while Mubadala Energy of the UAE found more gas in Block SK 320 with its Cengkih-1 wildcat.

In the emerging Western Luconia province, ConocoPhillips drilled three exploration wells on Block WL4-00, discovered gas with its Gagau-1 probe while the Salam-3 and Benum-2 appraisal wells confirmed the extension of oil and gas accumulations in adjacent fault blocks.

In the mature Baram province, Thailand’s national upstream company PTTEP made another gas discovery — Paprika — on Block SK 410B, where it discovered the giant Lang Lebah gas field in 2019.

Paprika is expected to be exploited as a satellite of the under-development Lang Lebah field.

Meanwhile, Petronas confirmed that French supermajor TotalEnergies delivered with its ultra-deepwater Tepat-2 well offshore Sabah. The Tepat-2 oil and gas discovery on Block N within the emerging Sabah Trough province, further proved the extent of the 2018 Tepat-1 oil and gas discovery.

Off the coast of Peninsular Malaysia, US operator Hess found a new gas reservoir with its Bergading Deep-4 well on Block PM 302 within the North Malay Basin.

“Our vast multi-client dataset covering emerging and frontier areas will continue to be the key in accelerating the time to drilling. Enabled by MPM’s long-term rig sequencing plan, our PACs are gearing up to drill as many as 30 exploration wells next year,” added Petronas senior general manager of resource exploration MPM, Azmir Zamri.

“These are part of the efforts to continue increasing the country’s hydrocarbon resource base to meet the growing energy demand, not just domestically but globally.”

Launch of new licensing round

Apart from the exploration success, there was an increased uptake in the Malaysia Bid Round (MBR) 2022 where investors responded strongly to the call for greater exploration investments.

The production sharing contract signings for the successful MBR 2022 bids are planned for February, followed by the launch of MBR 2023.

The MBR 2022, which was launched on 27 January, comprises 14 exploration blocks, six clusters of Discovered Resource Opportunities and one cluster of Late Life Assets.

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