Pertamina has taken over operatorship of Rokan, onshore Sumatra — one of Indonesia’s key producing oil assets — ending the decades-long Chevron era.

By the end of this year, the state-owned oil company plans to drill 161 new wells, including Chevron’s remaining commitment wells.

For 2022, Pertamina has ambitious plans to drill about 500 new wells at Rokan, which it is hailing as the largest number of any oil and gas player in the country.

To perform next year’s drilling programme, it plans to hire a further 10 drilling units, which will mean a total of 16 drilling rigs and 29 workover and well servicing units deployed at Rokan.

How the company manages enhanced oil recovery (EOR) operations will also be key to maintaining, let alone boosting, production.

Stay a step ahead with the Upstream News app
Read high quality news and insight on the oil and gas business and its energy transition on-the-go. The News app offers you more control over your Upstream reading experience than any other platform.

At the end of July, Rokan was producing around 160,500 barrels per day of oil and 41 million cubic feet per day of gas.

The Rokan working area, which Pertamina took over on 9 August, has produced a cumulative 11.69 billion barrels of oil since coming on stream in 1951, a decade after being discovered.

In its heyday, it accounted for 46% of national crude production, although today that has decreased to 24%.

‘Peak of its glory’

Rudi Satwiko, acting deputy for procurement control of Indonesia’s upstream regulator, SKK Migas, said: “The Rokan block has a long history in the national upstream oil and gas industry.

“This block once reached the peak of its glory with oil production reaching more than 700,000 barrels [per day] and is currently still the mainstay, with production reaching around 160,000 barrels.

“But seeing the potential at Rokan, which is still promising, this block will continue to be developed and become one of the backbones to achieve [national oil] production of 1 million barrels [per day] in 2030.”

Pertamina’s new contract for the Sumatra acreage is based on the gross split production sharing contract.

It had earlier talked of bringing on board partners for Rokan, potentially including Chevron itself, to avail itself of the EOR expertise required to arrest its output decline and share the cost and the risk.

In the transition period between Caltex Pacific Indonesia (Chevron) and Pertamina, which ran from 29 September last year until 8 August this year, 103 development wells were drilled.

Pertamina has a less than stellar record staving off steep output decline on acquired assets, such as with the Offshore Mahakam PSC, bought from joint owners Total and Inpex.

In addition to facilitating the promised drilling campaign, SKK Migas has been overseeing eight other issues that were viewed as key to the successful transfer of operatorship.

These are: data and operational migration; procurement of chemical EOR; management of operating support contracts; procurement of electricity; manpower; transfer of information technology; licensing and operating procedures; and management of the environment.

“We are grateful for the support of various parties, including the Riau regional government, so that the operation of the Rokan working area during the transition period went well,” said SKK Migas head Dwi Soetjipto.