* Blocks in Nam Con Son, Phu Quoc, Malay-Thochu basins
* Areas are outside disputed waters
* Firms from U.S., Europe express interest - official
(Adds Petrovietnam, analyst comments, Vietsovpetro plan)
By Ho Binh Minh
HANOI, Aug 2 Petrovietnam has launched the 2011
licensing round for nine oil and gas blocks offshore Vietnam,
the first since 2007 and the most in recent years, while
Vietsovpetro will boost investments, as the country works on
reversing declining output and exports.
Vietnam, a net oil exporter and Southeast Asia's
third-largest producer, has been facing falling output from
ageing fields and is seeking to ramp up domestic and overseas
production to meet growing demand and feed Dung Quat, its first
oil complex, while more refineries are being planned.
The licensing round lasting between Aug. 1 and Jan. 5, 2012
covers blocks 43, 03, 10/11, 41, 11-2/11, 05-3/11, 50, 22/03 and
12/11 in Nam Con Son, Phu Quoc and Malay-Thochu basins, state
oil and gas Petrovietnam group said in a statement on Tuesday.
"These are the blocks with much potential," said a
Petrovietnam official. He declined to reveal details of their
reserves estimates since Petrovietnam's data were "preliminary".
The blocks lie further to the south and southwest of the
Spratlys and Paracels in the South China Sea, and outside the
areas where China has been embroiled in territorial disputes
with many of its southern neighbours.
Oil firms from the United States to Europe have
expressed interest in the bidding round, the Petrovietnam
official said, without naming the companies.
The Nam Con Son basin covers the Lan Tay and Lan
Do gas fields, in which BP Plc sold its stakes to its
Russian joint venture TNK-BP late last year.
"The Nam Con Son basin should be pretty attractive, as
should the Malay-Thochu basin. I suspect, they'll find more gas
than oil in the areas though," said H.S. Yen, an analyst at
FACTS Energy, adding the round will attract many bidders because
it involves the most productive areas.
"My guess is that their projections for crude/gas production
will be similar to ours, peaking around 2014-2015, so this would
be an attempt to cover falling output by having potential new
fields that could enter into production around the 2015-2016
period to keep its output and exports stable," Yen said.
Registration and data review will be held between Aug. 10
and Oct. 7, and the official said Petrovietnam would strive to
release the results in January.
The data included around 49,000 km seismic 2D, 1,700 square
km seismic 3D, processed and 33 wells drilled, showing
similarity to recent oil and gas discoveries in the country and
the region, the statement said.
NEW FIELDS, INVESTMENTS
Other than Vietnam, major Southeast Asian oil and gas
producers Indonesia and Malaysia are also grappling with lower
output from ageing fields and are turning to enhanced oil
recovery technology for deepwater and marginal fields.
Myanmar is also aiming to become a big regional producer and
has invited bids for firms to operate 18 onshore oil blocks
across half a dozen provinces, the largest number in a single
such offer in recent years.
Vietnam's crude production from old fields, including the
major Bach Ho (White Tiger) oilfield in the Cuu Long basin, has
been falling. July's output fell 5.6 percent from the same month
in 2010 to 1.21 million tonnes, or 285,000 barrels per day
(bpd), government data show.
Vietnam-Russia oil venture Vietsovpetro's latest
projection of 6.31 million tonnes (126,719 bpd) of crude output
this year is also down from a 2002 peak of 13.5 million tonnes
(271,109 bpd) and 6.4 million tonnes last year.
It plans to invest hundreds of millions of dollars
in offshore oil rigs to shore up production, and is aiming for
average annual output of 6.4 million tonnes (128,526 bpd) up to
2015. Vietsovpetro reported in June a new oil flow of
4,560 bpd at a well near the Bach Ho field.
Last month, Petrovietnam said it has started production at
four new domestic and overseas oilfields and will bring
additional oil from an expanded project at the Dai Hung field in
the second half of this year. The new fields will help the
country produce 310,300 bpd of crude.
State oil marketer PV Oil this week sold the first two
cargoes of medium sweet crude from Te Giac Trang -- one of the
new fields -- for September-October loading via tender, trade
PV Oil is also expected to offer cargoes of the other new
crude, Chim Sao, in the next one to two months, traders said,
which could help turn round the fall in exports.
Petrovietnam started its first international licensing round
in 2004, having awarded exploration rights in three blocks in
the offshore Phu Khanh basin near the central coast, to firms
from the United States, Canada and India.
The next came in 2007 when Petrovietnam offered seven oil
blocks, all located in the Song Hong (Red River) Basin offshore
northern Vietnam, and was awarded the following year.
(Additional reporting by Florence Tan in SINGAPORE and Tran Le
Thuy in HANOI; Editing by Ramthan Hussain)