Exploration activities for petroleum started in the early 1960s in the Song Hong Delta, northern Vietnam, with assistance from the former Soviet Union. By late 1970's, almost 40 wells had been drilled in the region, however, only one small gas field has to be commercially developed. At the same period, exploration was also conducted in the southern continental shelf through concession agreements signed with international oil companies including Mobil, Esso, Pecten, Marathon, and Texas Union. Regional seismic surveys were performed over prospective areas and exploratory wells were drilled with positive results, of which the most important was the discovery of commercial oil by Mobil in the Bach Ho (White Tiger) prospect, in the Cuu Long Basin. This confirmed the obvious petroleum potential in the continental shelf of Vietnam.
            Following the re-unification of the country in 1975, the first Petroleum Sharing Contracts (PSC) were signed between PetroVietnam and foreign contractors to further explore for petroleum in the southern offshore area. Although there were some minor oil and gas shows, all of these agreements terminated in 1980. The subsequent period was marked only by the establishment of the Vietnam's first exploration and production enterprise, Vietsovpetro, a joint venture between PetroVietnam and RVO Zarubezneft (Russia) in 1981 to carry out petroleum operations in the Cuu Long Basin with Russian-supported equipments and technology.
            The Foreign Investment Law of Vietnam decreed in 1987 marked a milestone in the development of the industry. Since 1988, under the green light of the "open door" policy of the Government of Vietnam, petroleum activities in the country stepped forward to a new era. Exploration and production have been increasing in the whole continental shelf of Vietnam. To date, PetroVietnam has signed 37 Petroleum Sharing Contracts (PSC), 1 Business Cooperation Contract (BCC) and 7 Joint Operating Contracts (JOC) with more than 50 international oil and gas companies, accounting for over USD 4 billion investment. Currently, there are 25 remaining effective petroleum contracts involving international companies including RVO Zarubezneft, BP, Conoco, Unocal, Nippon Oil, Petronas, OMV, Idemitsu, KNOC, Talisman, Amerada Hess, Samedan, Pertamina, PTT E&P, ONGC, Maurel&Prom, ATI, Vamex, Soco, MOECO and OAO Gazprom.
            For a period of almost 40 years of exploration, large amount of seismic, well and related geophysical and geological database has been acquired all over the potential basins of Vietnam. More than 260,000 line kilometers of 2D seismic and 15,000 km2 of 3D seismic have been acquired and around 200 exploratory wells totaling approximately 500,000 depth-meters have been drilled. The success ratio for oil and gas found is approximately 50% with 18 oil and gas fields among 50 hydrocarbon-bearing prospects discovered throughout the continental shelf.
  Production Summary
  Oil Production
           In June 1986, Vietnam's first oil was produced by Vietsovpetro from the Bach Ho oil field. Until late 1994 when the Dai Hung and Rong fields came on-stream, that was the country's only producing field. Currently, Vietnam produces an average of 342,000 barrels per day (bopd) from six oil fields:
Field Basin Operator Average Production

Bach Ho Cuu Long Vietsovpetro 256,000 bopd
Rong Cuu Long Vietsovpetro 12,000 bopd
Dai Hung Nam Con Son Vietsovpetro 3,000 bopd
Rang Dong Cuu Long JVPC 43,000 bopd
Ruby Cuu Long Petronas 21,000 bopd
Bunga Kekwa* Malay-Tho Chu Talisman 14,000 bopd
(*) Vietnam's share is 50% of total field production
           Supported by the recent discovery of Su Tu Den-Su Tu Vang, a large oil field in Block 15-1, Cuu Long Basin, the country's oil production is expected to rise up to 450,000 bopd beginning 2004.
  Gas Production
           Vietnam's natural gas sector is still in the early stages of development. Except for gas produced from a minor gas field, Tien Hai C in the Hanoi Onshore Basin (onshore part of the Song Hong Basin) for local consumers, the major source for the country's gas demand to date is associated gas produced from the Bach Ho and Rang Dong fields in the Cuu Long Basin, and brought ashore through a 107 km 16" offshore pipeline. At present, the average associated gas output is 165 mmcfd and can be expanded up to 200 mmcfd.

            As the country's demand for energy continues to expand, gas will play an increasingly important role. In the near future, the Nam Con Son and Malay-Tho Chu Basins are two major gas supply centers. The Nam Con Son pipeline system with nominal capacity of 250 bcf per year will bring gas from the Lan Tay-Lan Do field in Block 06-1 to shore from the end of 2002 and is capable of connecting with other gas fields including Rong Doi-Rong Doi Tay and Hai Thach-Moc Tinh. The Southwest pipeline system, comprising two pipelines from Block PM3-CAA and Block B with total capacity of 220 bcf per year, are scheduled to be completed by 2005 and 2007 respectively. The gas will be distributed to a series of power and petrochemical plants in the Cuu Long Delta provinces. Non-associated gas production is planned to be 250 mmcfd in 2003, 550 mmcfd in 2005 and more than 1,000 mmcfd from 2010.


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Last Update: 8 August 2002