Petrotimes, Vietnam, 29 April 2014
We all remember the battle of Dien Bien Phu when, despite a severe shortage of food and ammunition, the Vietnamese troops under the command of Ho Chi Minh and General Vo Nguyen Giap defeated the key French colonial troops in Indochina. This victory put an end to French rule in the region and signalled the start of a new stage in the global national liberation movement.
Of course, the military operation at Dien Bien Phu cannot be compared to the Bien Dong 1 oil and gas project currently being implemented in the South China Sea by the Vietnamese oil and gas group, Petrovietnam (PVN). Just the fact that the former was a historical event with state (and, to a certain extent, global) significance, while the latter is strictly civil and purely industrial, would make this an improper comparison.
There is only one thing they have in common: both the soldiers and the oil workers had to operate in incredibly difficult conditions. The complexity of the Bien Dong project has been such that one of the global oil giants, Britain's BP, was forced to pull out of these fields after spending seven years on extensive exploration and prospecting work and investing over USD 500 million in the project. Many well-known oil and gas specialists advised PVN not to take the risk, and some even wagered that any work here was doomed to failure. So when Vietnam finally took the project on, hardly a single expert believed it would be possible to achieve anything in these fields, where the gas pressure reaches 952 atmospheres and the temperature is as high as 200 degrees Celsius. Nevertheless, it has taken only four years to achieve the principal goal – a return on investment.
Bien Dong 1 is a type of "graduation paper" for the Vietnamese oil industry. It is a new chapter in geological exploration and hydrocarbon extraction. And this is why Bien Dong 1 is called the Dien Bien Phu of the Vietnamese oil and gas front.
Today, the Hai Thac and Moc Tinh rigs supply over 5 million cubic meters of gas and 10,000 barrels of oil to the shore daily, and USD 500,000 are poured into the state coffers every day. These are truly record figures.
As the general director of Bien Dong, Nguyen Quynh Lam said, the production platforms are currently working to an extremely low downtime coefficient and they have been running non-stop since January.
The fact that the production well has shown good results is also worthy of attention: the condensate content is double that of the initially planned level.
It was expected that PVN would have to invest around USD 2.4 billion in the project to place all the fields being developed in operation by the end of 2016. However, with the industrial volumes of gas and oil already obtained, this figure now stands at only USD 1.6 billion.