Since the early 1900s, with oil discoveries in Sumatera in 1885, Java in 1887, and Kalimantan in 1891, Indonesia has been recognized as an important oil-producing country outside America.
By 1900 there were already 18 oil companies operating in Indonesia. It is interesting to note that only companies registered in Nederland and managed by the Dutch could operate in Indonesia at that time. The reason for this was up until World War II, Indonesia was under the administration of the Netherlands East Indies (NEI).
These old Dutch oil companies played important roles in putting Indonesia on the world map as a significant producer of crude oil and fuels. They discovered and developed many oilfields in Indonesia, and even built refineries in Sumatera, Java, and Borneo. By 1938, oil production had reached 140,000 barrels per day.
By 1945, the year when Indonesia declared its independence, due to acquisitions and mergers, the number of oil companies had reduced to just four: BPM (Bataafsche Petroleum Maatschappij), NIAM (Nederlands Indische Aardolie Maatschappij), STANVAC, and CALTEX.
Stanvac and Caltex which were owned by their American parent companies started as Dutch-registered companies.
After 1965, when Pertamina acquired BPM, all the oil companies with Dutch names no longer existed. Nevertheless, their names appeared in many old and new articles and are often cited in research papers.
Since the names of the old Dutch oil companies in Indonesia consisted of long Dutch words, they were often written in their acronyms.
Here is the glossary of the acronyms of some of the old Dutch oil companies that operated in Indonesia in the past.
The first oil exploration in Indonesia started not long after Colonel Drake successfully drilled the first oil discovery well in Pennsylvania in the United States in 1859.
By 1869, Dutch businessmen in Indonesia, known as the Netherlands East Indies at that time, had noticed and recorded 53 oil seepage locations in Sumatera, Java, and Kalimantan.
Then the first oil well drilling in Indonesia took place in 1871 in West Java.
However, commercial discoveries were made only several years later when a Dutch businessman drilled successful exploration wells in Pangkalan Brandan in North Sumatera in 1885 and Sanga-Sanga in East Kalimantan in 1892.
These two discoveries caught the attention of the world and put Indonesia on the map as one of the countries with interesting oil potentials.
By 1900 there were already 18 oil companies searching for oil in the Netherlands East Indies (NEI). All these companies were either Dutch companies or non-Dutch companies registered in Nederland. The high level of activities resulted in significant oil discoveries in the early 1900s.
Following the oil discoveries, refineries were built in Pangkalan Brandan in North Sumatera in 1892, Sungei Gerong in South Sumatera in 1926, Balikpapan in East Kalimantan in 1922. By 1940, there were already seven refineries in NEI: three in Sumatera, three in Java, and one in Kalimantan.
In 1938, the daily crude oil production was about 140,000 BOPD and in 1953 it was about 190,000 BOPD.
The high level of oil production and refining activities from 1900 to 1940 made Indonesia well-known as one of the world’s significant crude oil producers and refined product suppliers at that time.
Recognized as a significant oil producer, Indonesia was invited to become a member of OPEC 1962.
The three oil companies that produced about 90% of all the petroleum in Indonesia during the Dutch colonial period are:
BPM – Bataafsche Petroleum Maatschappij
STANVAC – Standard Vacuum Oil Company
Here are the amazing stories of these three big oil companies operating in Indonesia before 1945.
BPM is Bataafsche Petroleum Maatschappij, also called the Batavian Oil Company. Batavia, which is Jakarta today, was the center of the NEI government.
BPM was established in 1907 by KNPM (Koninklijke Nederlandsche Petroleum Maatschappij) also known as Royal Dutch Petroleum Company and Shell Trading and Transport Company to explore and produce oil in the Netherlands East Indies.
Royal Dutch Petroleum Company owned 60% and Shell owned 40% of BPM.
Before BPM was set up, there were already as many as 18 oil companies operating in the Netherlands East Indies (NEI) from North Sumatera, Java, Borneo, and all the way to Papua.
BPM quickly took over almost all of these companies and dominated the oil industry in Indonesia. By 1920, it had controlled more than 95% of crude oil production in Indonesia.
In 1921, as the government of the Netherlands East Indies wanted to take part in the booming oil business in Indonesia, NEI and BPM formed another company called NIAM (Nederlands Indische Aardolie Maatschappij).
Many big changes took place in the oil industry after Indonesia declared its independence in 1945. The first big change was the takeover by the government of Indonesia the NEI’s 50% ownership in NIAM.
This marked the beginning of an Indonesian government-owned oil company. It also started a working relationship between BPM and the government of Indonesia. With this relationship, BPM managed to extend its activities in Indonesia until 1965.
In 1965, BPM sold all its assets in Indonesia to the Indonesian state-owned company PN Permina for US$110 Million. Permina later became Pertamina.
BPM operations in Indonesia were extensive. They stretched from the western part of Indonesia to the eastern part of Indonesia.
Here are the operations of BPM in various parts of Indonesia.
BPM In Borneo
In 1907, right after it was formed, BPM acquired the oil fields and refinery in Balikpapan from Mathilda company. It also acquired the oil fields in Sanga Sanga and Tarakan which had been discovered previously by KNPM (Koninklijke Nederlandsche Petroleum Maatschappij).
BPM expanded its exploration and production aggressively in East Borneo and continued to discover several other fields in these areas.
On the small island of Tarakan, BPM drilled 700 oil wells and built a refinery.
Production continued to increase and in the 1920s the Tarakan wells produced about 18,000 BOPD, a third of the total oil production in the whole Dutch East Indies.
BPM in North Sumatera
BPM acquired from KNPM the oil fields and the refinery located at Pangkalan Brandan. BPM also took over the operations of the oil tanking and the oil export facilities at Pangkalan Susu. Pangkalan Susu was the first oil-exporting port in Indonesia.
BPM in Java
In Java, BPM acquired the oil assets of DPM (Doordsche Petroleum Maatschappij), a Dutch oil company established by Adriaan Stoop in 1887.
DPM had discovered and operated the Kruka Field and the Djabakota Field near Surabaya in East Java. DPM also had built the oil refinery in Wonokromo. Completed in 1893, this was the first oil refinery in Indonesia.
By acquiring DPM, BPM also became the owner of some thirty oil fields in East Java including another refinery located in Cepu which was built in 1894.
BPM In South Sumatera
In South Sumatera, BPM took over SPPM (Sumatera Palembang Petroleum Maatschappij). SPPM had been operating the oil fields in its concessions in Banyuasin and Jambi.
BPM also acquired the oil assets of MEPM (Muara Enim Petroleum Maatschappij). MEPM had discovered the Muara Enim field and built the Plaju Refinery.
BPM In Irian Jaya
In 1935 BPM expanded its search for oil into Irian Jaya. For this venture, along with other partners, BPM formed a joint venture company named NNGPM (Nederlandsche Nieuw Guinea Petroleum Maatschappij) with exploration rights for 25 years.
By 1938 they had discovered the Klamono oil field. followed by Wasian, Mogoi, and Sele fields.
However, for commercial reasons, these fields were not developed.
STANVAC – Standard Vacuum Oil Company – started as NKPM (Nederlandsche Koloniale Petroleum Maatschappij) in 1912. NKPM was set up in Nederland by the American company Standard Oil of New Jersey so it could explore for oil in Indonesia.
Since Indonesia was under the control of the Netherlands East Indies at that time, Jersey Standards had to set up NKPM as a Dutch-registered and Dutch-managed company with headquarters located in The Hague.
NKPM began to make exploration in Java and South Sumatera in 1914.
It was in South Sumatera NKPM found its liquid gold. Operating from the city of Palembang, it discovered the Petak field in 1914, the Trembule field, and the huge Talang Akar field in 1921. These discoveries prompted NKPM to construct the famous Sungai Gerong oil refinery.
In 1922 NKPM changed its name to SVPM (Standard-Vacuum Petroleum Maatschappij).
It also constructed the 130 Km long pipeline from Pendopo area to Sungai Gerong to bring the crude oil from the prolific Talang Akar field to the refinery.
The Sungai Gerong refinery began operating in 1926 and became the largest and important oil refinery in South East Asia.
It was so important that the refinery was occupied by Japanese forces from 1942 to 1945 during World War II.
To meet the increasing demands for petroleum products in Africa and the Asia Pacific, Standard Oil Company of New Jersey and SOCONY (Standard Oil Company of New York) jointly created STANVAC (Standard Vacuum Oil Company) in 1933.
This was a synergistic partnership as Standard Oil Company of New Jersey had the oil production capacity and SONONY had the marketing facility.
The newly created Stanvac in the Netherlands East Indies consisted of three companies: Standard Vacuum Petroleum Maatschappij (SVPM), the Standard Vacuum Sales Company (SVSC), and the Standard Vacuum Tankvaart Maatschappij (SVTM).
Stanvac took over all the assets of SVPM in Indonesia and became a full-fledged oil company involved in oil exploration and production, refining, transportation, and distribution in more than 50 countries.
However, Stanvac continued to operate under its Dutch company name – SVPM – in the NEI.
Stanvac produced oil from many fields in South Sumatera. The notable ones were Talang Akar, Djirak, Benakat, Radja fields.
In 1934, Stanvac expanded its operations to Central Sumatera. Here it discovered and developed the well-known Lirik field and later the Binio field.
Things began to change after World War II and the declaration of independence of Indonesia.
It was after the declaration of independence by Indonesia in 1945, to distance itself from its Dutch connection, Stanvac began calling itself Stanvac Indonesia as its company name to show its American origin.
In so doing, Stanvac was able to keep its assets and continue to operate in the newly independent Indonesia.
In 1960, as Indonesia wanted to have more control of the oil operation and business, it introduced the 1960 Oil Law which stated that all foreign oil companies must operate as a contractor for the Indonesian government.
On 24 September 1963, Stanvac signed the “Contract of Work” agreement with Indonesia’s Pertambangan Minjak Nasional (Permina).
The contract allowed Stanvac to continue to have full control of its oil exploration and production operations in Indonesia. Under this agreement, Stanvac must sell its refinery within ten to fifteen years.
However, Stanvac had to sell its Sungai Gerong refinery to Pertamina in 1969.
Stanvac Indonesia continued to operate its oil fields until finally, it left Indonesia in 1995 when it sold all its assets to Medco Energi for 88 million USD.
CALTEX was established in 1936 by Standard of California and Texaco to explore and produce oil in Indonesia and to expand its oil business in the Asia Pacific.
Earlier in 1924, The Standard of California had sent its team of geologists to Indonesia.
To operate in the Netherlands East Indies at that time, Caltex must obtain oil concessions from the government of NEI (Nederlands East India) who was the ruler of Indonesia at that time. To do so, Caltex established NPPM (Nederlandsche Pacific Petroleum Maatschappij), a Nederland registered company with its headquarters located in The Hague. Also, the company must be run by Dutch nationals.
In the same year, Caltex received its first oil concession in the Rimba area which is now known as the Rokan Block in Central Sumatera.
Soon after that Caltex began to find oil, but it was in 1941 that Caltex discovered the huge Duri field. Due to the high pour point of its low gravity crude oil, it was necessary to use steam-flood to drive out the oil. Due to the success of the steam flood method, the Duri field became known as one of the largest steam-flood projects in the world. In spite of the huge challenges to produce the field, it has produced more than 2.64 billion barrels of oil so far.
Several years later Caltex went on to discover another giant oil field, The Minas field.
The story of the Minas field discovery is very interesting. In 1940, at the beginning of World War II, Caltex had started the drilling of its exploration well in the Minas area. However, before the drilling was completed, Caltex had to abandon the drilling as the Japanese army was coming to occupy the area and to take over the oil facilities.
The Japanese army engineers resumed the drilling of the well in 1943 and discovered oil when it drilled down to 2600 feet deep.
At the end of the war, Caltex regained control of its oil assets and continued to investigate the Minas field. After drilling several additional wells, Caltex confirmed the discovery of the huge Minas oil field.
Caltex went on to discover many smaller oil fields in its concession area.
By the late 1950s, Caltex became one of the largest oil producers in Indonesia. At its peak in 1973, Caltex produced about 1 million BOPD from the Duri, the Minas, and about 80 smaller oil fields. Caltex holds the record of having the highest daily crude oil production rate in Indonesia.
Caltex completed the construction of a crude oil export terminal in Dumai in 1958.
Caltex signed a work contract agreement with Indonesia in 1961 giving it the right to continue to operate the Rokan block until 2001. Later on, Caltex managed to obtain a work contract extension to operate the block for another 20 years until 2021.
The two owners of CALTEX, Chevron, and Texaco merged in 2001 to become ChevronTexaco Corporation. Later on, in 2005, ChevronTexaco Corporation dropped the name Texaco and renamed the company as Chevron Corporation.
Following the name change of its parent company, Caltex in Indonesia which was initially incorporated as PT Caltex Pacific Indonesia changed its name to PT Chevron Pacific Indonesia.
By 2008, Chevron Pacific Indonesia had produced 11 billion barrels of crude oil from the extremely prolific Rokan block.
Although the Rokan block has been producing oil for more than 80 years, it still has 2 billion barrels of estimated producible reserves. It is considered as an important block in Indonesia’s ambition to increase the daily oil production in Indonesia to one million barrels by 2030.
Although the name Caltex disappeared in Indonesia after the name change, the Caltex petroleum brand is still alive in many countries in the Asia Pacific.
These three companies of the past were great companies to work for. Since most of their oilfields were located in the middle of a jungle, the companies provided good and well-rounded facilities – schools, clinics, cafeterias, places for worship, sports, and entertainment – to their employees and their families.
Many people and children of those who had worked for these companies have fond and colorful memories of the companies.
To me, the one that is the most interesting is BPM.
The joint venture of Royal Dutch Petroleum Company and Shell Trading and Transport Company that formed BPM – Bataafsche Petroleum Maatschappij – in Indonesia in 1907 sowed the seed that eventually grew into the current giant Shell Oil Company.
Also, BPM had a role in the rise of Pertamina when Pertamina took over all the assets of BPM in 1965.
Fifty years ago, Union Oil of California (UNOCAL) along with its partner, INPEX, discovered the giant offshore oil field Attaka in East Kalimantan.
General Soeharto, the president of Indonesia at that time, then inaugurated the Attaka field and the Santan terminal on 22 January 1973.
In the early days of Attaka and the Santan terminal, there were many workers from the US and UK. Over time, they were gradually replaced by Indonesian workers.
Unocal operated the oil field for 25 years from its East Kalimantan headquarters located in Balikpapan. The Attaka field was subsequently acquired and operated by Chevron, and then by Pertamina Hulu Kalimantan Timur beginning on 25 October 2018.
At 50 years old, the field is still producing today.
Thousands of oil people – expatriates from many nations and Indonesians from every region – have visited and worked in the offshore facilities and the onshore Santan terminal including me.
I worked in the Attaka field as “Production Foreman” in 1980. I hope you like this snippet of the history of Attaka and the Santan terminal.
Oil companies in Indonesia and SKK Migas were buzzing with activities and excitement in 2019.
Exploration and Production Results
First, here are the combined performance results of the exploration and production activities of all the oil and gas production sharing contractors in Indonesia operating under the supervision of SKK Migas in 2019:
Total number of active work areas: 201
Average daily crude oil production: 746,000 BOPD
Average daily gas production: 5934 MMSCFD
Combined total daily oil and gas production: 1,806,000 BOEPD
The total value of the investment: 11.49 Billion USD
Number of development wells completed: 322
Number of exploration wells drilled: 36
The volume of oil and gas in place discovered: 113 BBOE
2-D seismic surveys completed: 12169 KM
3-D seismic survey completed: 6837 KM2
On the oil and gas discovery front, it is nice to note that REPSOL and partners PETRONAS and MOECO discovered a giant gas field in February 2019 in the Sakakemang block in South Sumatera. With 2 trillion cubic feet of recoverable gas reserves, it is one of the largest gas discoveries in the world in 2019 and also the most significant gas discovery in Indonesia in the last 18 years.
On new field development, Inpex Indonesia and SKK Migas made significant progress in developing the huge Abadi gas field and constructing the LNG plant. It was decided the LNG plant will be built in the Yamdena Island in the Maluku province of Indonesia.
The 15 Largest Oil Producers in Indonesia
Here are the 15 largest oil producers operating under the production sharing system in Indonesia in 2019:
Pertamina Hulu Mahakam
Pertamina Hulu Energi Offshore North West Java (PHE ONWJ)
Pertamina Hulu Energi Offshore South East Sumatera (PHE OSES)
PetroChina International Jabung
Medco E&P Natuna
Petronas Carigali Ketapang
Pertamina Hulu Kalimantan Timur
BOB Bumi Siak Pusako Pertamina Hulu
Pertamina Hulu Sanga Sanga
Medco E&P Rimau
JOB Pertamina Medco Tomori Sulawesi
The 15 largest natural gas producers in 2019
Here are the 15 largest gas producers in Indonesia in 2019:
Pertamina Hulu Mahakam
ENI Muara Bakau
JOB Pertamina Medco Tomori Sulawesi
Premier Oil Indonesia
PetroChina International Jabung
Medco EP Natuna
Kangean Energy Indonesia
PHE West Madura Offshore
Pertamina Hulu Energi Jambi Merang
Mubadala Petroleum Indonesia
PHE Offshore North West Java
The SKK Migas
The SKK Migasof Indonesia has also been very proactive in its roles as the supervisor of the production sharing contractors to facilitate their exploration and production activities.
With the vision to increase the oil production in Indonesia to one million barrels per day by 2030, SKK Migas instituted the Integrated Operation Center (IOC) and the One Door Service Policy (ODSP) in 2019.
The Integrated Operation Center (IOC)
SKK Migas launched the Integrated Operation Center (IOC) in 2019. With the IOC, SKK Migas now has online and realtime access to information and data related to the exploration, drilling and production activities of the production sharing contractors in all work areas.
The IOC allows SKK Migas to monitor the daily field activities of all operators, understand the field situations and make prompt recommendations.
The objectives of SKK Migas in establishing the OIC are to keep the oil and gas operations go smoothly and achieve the production targets.
Currently here is the information that is being monitored by the Integrated Operation Center:
Oil and gas production (Production Dashboard)
Oil and gas lifting (Oil and Gas Lifting Dashboard)
Stock Management (Stock Management Dashboard)
Plant Operation (Plant Information Management System – PIMS)
Vessel tracking (Vessel Tracking Information System – VTIS)
Real-Time Drilling Operation
Emergency responses (Emergency Response Center – ERC)
The One Door Service Policy (ODSP)
SKK Migas also introduced One Door Service Policy (ODSP) in 2019. Through ODSP, the applications of all the permits related to exploration, drilling, field development, and production can be processed in one place.
SKK Migas will work with and support all the production sharing contractors in preparing the required documents and submitting the applications to obtain the various permits they need.
This is a very significant service because of the various types of permits that oil operators must apply. With this one-door policy, SKK Migas is hopeful that the various permits can be obtained promptly, and the oil and gas exploration and production targets can be achieved.
The One Door Service Policy consists of four work-groups that will help the production sharing contractors deal with the following type of permits:
Permits related to land acquisition and use
Permits related to the environment, safety and security
Permits related to the use of resources and infrastructure
Permits related to the use of materials and human resources from outside Indonesia.
Several exploration and production targets were exceeded in 2019 and SKK Migas is hopeful the new 2020 targets can be achieved also by the end of the year.
This article is adapted from the information posted by SKK Migas.
Balikpapan, located in East Kalimantan, is the most well known and interesting oil town in Indonesia, and possibly in the world. It is at the center of oil and gas exploration and production activities that have been taking place in East Kalimantan since 1897 when the first oil well was drilled in Balikpapan. It is also the battleground of two fierce battles during World War II. It is set to become even more well known with the announcement of the relocation of the capital city of Indonesia from Jakarta to East Kalimantan.
Here are the interesting facts about Balikpapan.
The First Oil Discovery At Balikpapan
Oil was discovered in Balikpapan in 1897 when Jacobus Hubertus Menten, a Dutch mining engineer observed oil seepages in the area. With the help from Sir Marcus Samuel from Shell Transport and Trading Ltd, they drilled the famous Well Mathilda B-1 on 10 February 1897. The well was drilled to 222 Meter and it flowed initially at 184 barrels per day. This oil discovery in Balikpapan took place 38 years after Sir Edwin Drake drilled the world’s first oil well in America.
This picture shows the Mathilda B-1, the first well drilled in Balikpapan. The picture was taken by Chaz Tumbelaka.
With the discovery, Jacobus Hubertus Menten and Sir Marcus Samuel formed Nederlandsch Indisch Industrie en Handel Maatschappij (NIIHM), and it continued to discover other oil fields away from Balikpapan. 10 February 1897 is considered the birth date of Balikpapan.
The Balikpapan Refinery
To process the crude oil from the surrounding area and to meet the needs for fuel, the oil refinery of Balikpapan was completed in 1922 by BPM (Bataafsche Petroleum Maatschappij) which was a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell. The Balikpapan refinery was damaged in 1942 when the Japanese army invaded Balikpapan. The refinery was controlled by the Japanese army in 1942-1945. BPM regained control of the refinery after the Allied forces ended the Japanese occupation of Balikpapan in 1945.
Several years later, Pertamina gained control of the refinery in 1949. The refinery has been expanded and upgraded several times to meet the increasing demand for fuel in the eastern part of Indonesia.
As one of the largest refineries in Indonesia, it is set to become even bigger. It is currently undergoing a large 4-billion-dollar expansion which will increase its processing capacity from 260,000 barrels per day to 360,000 barrels per day when it is completed in 2021. The refinery will have the capability to produce high-quality Euro V standard fuels.
The Discovery of Giant Oil and Gas Fields
Balikpapan experienced its biggest boom when several large international oil companies came to town after the production sharing contract scheme was introduced by Indonesia in 1966.
Balikpapan was the base of Union Oil of California (Unocal), Total and Roy M. Huffington Incorporated (Huffco) during their exploration and production operations in East Kalimantan where they discovered several giant oil and gas fields.
Pertamina has a huge presence in Balikpapan since 1949 when it took over the oilfields and the refinery which were previously operated by BPM (Bataafsche Petroleum Maatschappij), a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell.
Operated from Balikpapan, Unocal in partnership with Japex discovered the giant offshore oil field of Attaka in 1970. It also discovered the offshore Sepinggan field and the Yakin field both of which are clearly visible from the hills at Balikpapan. In 1996, Unocal discovered and developed the West Seno field which is the first deepwater oil field in Indonesia.
Total with its partner, Inpex, acquired the Mahakam Block in 1966. They discovered several giant offshore oil and gas fields: Handil, Peciko, Tambora, Bekapai, South Mahakam, Sisi-Nubi, and Tunu.
Huffco discovered the giant onshore Badak gas field in 1970 in East Kalimantan. The discovery of the giant Badak gas field had a huge influence on the course of oil and gas development in East Kalimantan. It prompted Huffco and Pertamina of Indonesia to build an LNG plant making it possible to export the gas.
Besides the Badak field, Huffco subsequently discovered the Nilam, Pamaguan, Semberah, Mutiara, Beras, and Lempake fields.
Huffco later became known as VICO Indonesia (Virginia Indonesia Company) in 1990 after Mr. Roy M. Huffinton sold the company.
After the introduction of the production sharing contract scheme (PSC) in 1966, and with the discovery of several giant oil and fields in East Kalimantan and in other parts of Indonesia, crude oil production in Indonesia increased from 500,000 BOPD to 1,650,000 BOPD at its peak in 1977.
The Badak LNG Plant in Bontang
The LNG plant known as the Badak LNG was completed in 1977. Located in Bontang, besides processing the gas produced by Huffco from the Badak field, the Badak LNG plant also processes gas produced from the fields operated by Unocal and Total located in East Kalimantan. Up until the completion of the LNG plant, most of the associated gas produced by Unocal and Total were flared.
The Badak LNG plant initially comprised of two trains. Over the years, with new field discoveries, six additional trains were constructed. With 22.5 million tons per year LNG production capacity, it is one of the largest LNG plants in the world.
As of 16 September 2019, Badak LNG has delivered 9445 LNG cargoes to countries such as Japan, Taiwan, Korea, China, the USA, Russia, and India.
The Fierce Battlefield during World War II Twice
Being rich in oil and having a refinery, Balikpapan was so vital that it became a battlefield twice during World War II.
The Battle of Balikpapan in 1942
During World War II, in order to control the supply of fuel, Japan invaded Balikpapan in 1942. The Dutch garrison resisted the invasion but eventually was defeated by the much bigger Japanese forces. The refinery was partially destroyed during the invasion. Japanese forces took control of Balikpapan, oil production and the refinery from 1942 to 1945.
The Battle of Balikpapan in 1945
To regain control of Balikpapan and the oil supply, the Allied forces directed by General Douglas McArthur and spearheaded by the Australian 7th Division invaded Balikpapan on 25 June 1945. After 3 weeks of fierce fighting and heavy bombing, the Japanese soldiers in Balikpapan finally surrendered on 21 July 1945. Many Japanese soldiers fought to the end in the battle. There is a Japanese cemetery hidden among the hills in Balikpapan.
The Coal Boom of Balikpapan in the 1990s
Balikpapan experienced another economic boom when it became the center of the booming coal production in East Kalimantan beginning in the 1990s.
The Balikpapan Coal Terminal completed in 1995 is one of the biggest coal terminals in Indonesia. It has a throughput capacity of 15 million tons of coal annually.
Will Balikpapan continue to boom?
Since the discovery of the first oil well in Balikpapan in 1897, Balikpapan has seen several booms in the last 120 years. It has grown from a small fishing village to become a city with a population of 850,000 today.
On 26 August 2019, the President of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, announced that Indonesia will relocate its capital city from Jakarta to East Kalimantan. As the main gateway to East Kalimantan, Balikpapan will be the center of activities during the construction of a new capital of Indonesia. So, Balikpapan will likely continue to boom.
Finally, Balikpapan indeed is a very interesting town. As an oil and coal mining town, it has been voted several times as the most liveable city in Indonesia. Thousands of oil people from around the world have worked and lived here. Many children of international expatriates and Indonesian oil professionals from Java, Sumatera and other parts of Indonesia grew up in Balikpapan. Most of them have fond memories of Balikpapan.
Many sons and daughters of the first-generation Indonesian oil professionals follow the footsteps of their parents to work for oil companies in Balikpapan. There is a saying in Balikpapan whoever has drunk the water of Balikpapan will surely return. The writer of this article lived and worked for Unocal in Balikpapan from 1976 to 1980, and he has returned to visit this interesting place many times.
With a design capacity of about 592,000 barrels a day, the Exxon Singapore Refinery in Singapore is the largest refinery in South East Asia. It is also ExxonMobil’s largest in the world.
Located in Jurong Island of Singapore, the refinery became the largest as it is made up of the former Mobil and Esso refineries which operate as one facility, following the merger of Exxon and Mobil in 1999.
ExxonMobil recently completed the refinery expansion to upgrade of the production of its proprietary EHC Group II base stocks.
It also has an ongoing multibillion-dollar expansion to enable the refinery to convert fuel oil and other bottom-of-the-barrel crude products into higher-value lube base stocks and distillates.
2. Shell Pulau Bukom Refinery – 458,000 BPD – Singapore
Royal Dutch Shell’s refinery at Pulau Bukom in Singapore has the capacity to process 458,000 barrels of crude oil per day.
It recently completed the expansion to increase the storage capacity by nearly 1.3 million barrels by building two large crude oil tanks.
The refinery is the company’s largest wholly-owned Shell refinery globally in terms of crude distillation capacity.
3. Pertamina Cilacap Refinery – 348,000 BPD – Indonesia
With a total combined capacity to process 348,000 barrels of oil per day, the Pertamina Cilacap refinery consists of Oil Refinery I and Oil Refinery II. The Cilacap refinery is Pertamina’s largest and is located in Cilacap in Central Jawa of Indonesia.
Oil Refinery I was constructed in 1974 with a design capacity of 100,000 barrels of oil per day. In 1998, to meet the growing demand for fuels and lube oil, the refinery underwent a Debottlenecking Project which increased its crude oil processing capacity to 218,000 BOP. The refinery was designed to process crude oil from the Middle East.
Oil Refinery II was built in 1981 with a design capacity of 220,000 BOPD. It is capable to process the crude oil from Indonesia and The Middle East.
Located in Jurong Island of Singapore, the Singapore Refining Corporation Refinery was originally constructed in 1979 to process 70,000 BOPD. It was later expanded to increase its capacity to 285,000 BPD.
Singapore Refining Corporation is currently owned by Chevron and PetroChina. PetroChina became a co-owner of the refinery following its purchase of Keppel Corporation’s stake in the refinery in 2009.
5. PTT Rayong Refinery – 280,000 BPD – Thailand
PTT Rayong Refinery started in 1996, is owned by PTT Aromatics and Refining Public Company. Currently, the refinery has a design capacity of 280,000 BPD following the completion of an expansion of its condensate splitting capacity and connected units in 2009.
The refinery is located in Sriracha, Thailand. PTT Group became the sole owner of the refinery when Shell International sold its 64 percent stake in the refinery to state giant PTT Plc.
6. Thai Oil Refinery – 275,000 BPD – Thailand
The Thai Oil Refinery is a large high complexity refinery capable of processing 275,000 barrels per day. Located at Sriracha, Thailand, the refinery was originally commissioned in 1961 with a capacity of 35,000 BPD. It underwent several expansions subsequently to increase its processing capacity to its current level.
Currently, the refinery is being further expanded and upgraded. The expansion project will increase daily crude throughput from 275,000 barrels to 400,000 barrels.
7. Pertamina Balikpapan Refinery – 260,000 BPD – Indonesia
The Pertamina Balikpapan Refinery has a very interesting and long history. It was built by Shell Transport and Trading Ltd in 1922, during the Dutch colonial times, following the discovery of oil in Balikpapan in East Kalimantan in 1897. The discovery was named Mathilda as it was drilled by Mathilda Corporation.
Pertamina acquired the refinery from Shell in 1966 and subsequently expanded the capacity of the refinery to its current level.
The refinery is currently being expanded further to increase its capacity from 260,000 to 360,000 BPD.
8. IRPC Rayong Refinery – 215,000 BPD – Thailand
Located at Rayong, Thailand, the IRPC Rayong Refinery has a capacity to process 215,000 barrels of oil per day. It is a large refinery and integrated petrochemical complex and is designed to handle condensate and crude oil.
9. Petron Bataan Refinery – 180,000 BPD – The Philippines
Located at Bataan in the Philippines, Petron Bataan Refinery has a designed capacity of 180,000 barrels per day. The refinery started in 1961 and is owned by Petron Corporation.
10. Petronas/Phillips66 Melaka II Refinery – 170,000 BPD – Malaysia
Located in Melaka, Malaysia, the Petronas/Phillips66 Melaka II Refinery has an installed capacity of 170,000 barrels of oil per day.
The refinery was commissioned in 1999 with an initial capacity of 100,000 BPD. Its crude oil processing capacity increased to 170,000 BPD after it underwent a debottlenecking project in 2007.
PETRONAS became the sole owner of the refinery in 2014 when it acquired the 47% stake of Phillips 66 in the refinery.
Pertamina has completed the construction of the 67 km gas pipeline supplying gas to its Unit II Refinery in Dumai. With the commissioning of the 24-inch pipeline on 14 April 2019, the fuel needed to operate the refinery is now supplied by the gas produced from the nearby gas fields.
The gas comes from the following three blocks:
The prolific Grissik field located in the Corridor Block which is operated by ConocoPhillips. The Grissik field produced more than 900 MMSCF of gas per day in 2018. With an area of 2258 square kilometers, the Corridor Block is one of the largest gas blocks in Indonesia. Other very large gas blocks are the Tangguh and the Mahakam blocks.
The fields located in the Bentu Block which is managed by PT Mega Energi Persada (PT EMP). The Bentu Block is located near the city of Pekanbaru. PT EMP also supplies its gas to Indonesia’s state power company (PLN) and Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper (RAPP).
The oil and gas fields located in the Jambi Merang Block which is now operated by Pertamina Hulu Energi Jambi Merang (PHE Jambi Merang). PHE Jambi Merang acquired the block from the Joint Operating Body Pertamina-Talisman Jambi Merang on 9 February 2019.
In the past, the refinery used the fuel oil, Naptha and fuel gas it produced internally to meet the fuel needs of the refinery.
The project has brought significant economic benefits to both the gas producers and the refinery. In using the gas, the refinery is able to reduce its fuel costs by 40%.
The average crude oil production in Indonesia in 2018 is 803,000 barrels per day according to SKK Migas of Indonesia.
Here are the top ten crude oil-producing companies in Indonesia in 2018.
Chevron Pacific Indonesia – 209,000 BOPD
Chevron is the biggest oil producer in Indonesia in 2018 and has been a leading oil producer in Indonesia for more than 90 years. It started operating in Indonesia in 1924 under Standard Oil Company of California (SOCAL).
Chevron operated oilfields in Sumatera and East Kalimantan. It’s East Kalimantan assets came from the acquisition of Unocal in 2005. Chevron handed back all the assets in East Kalimantan to the Indonesia government on October 24, 2018, after 50 years of operation under Unocal and Chevron.
Currently, Chevron’s oil production comes mainly from the oil fields located in Riau, Sumatera under the Rokan Production Sharing Contract. The biggest oil field in the Rokan PSC is the Duri field which has been under steam-flood since 1985 and is one of the largest steam flood projects in the world. Minas is another giant oil field that Chevron discovered and operated in the Rokan Block.
ExxonMobil Cepu Ltd – 208,000 BOPD
ExxonMobil Cepu Ltd is the operator of the Cepu block located in Central Java and East Java. The Cepu Cooperation Contract (KKS) was signed on 17 September 2005 and will continue until 2035. ExxonMobil holds a 45% interest in the Cepu block.
ExxonMobil started exploration in 1999, and the oil from the Banyu Urip field started to flow in December 2008.
Pertamina EP – 79,000 BOPD
Pertamina EP operated 21 oil and gas fields located in various parts of Indonesia. These oilfields are managed under five asset groups based on their geographical locations.
Located in North Sumatera and some parts of South Sumatera, the Asset One oilfields include Rantau Field, Pangkalan Susu Field, Lirik Field, Jambi Field, dan Ramba Field.
Located in South Sumatera, the Asset Two oilfields include Prabumulih Field, Pendopo Field, Limau Field dan Adera Field.
Located in West Jawa, the oilfields included in Asset Three are Subang Field, Jatibarang Field dan Tambun Field.
Located in Central and East Jawa, the Asset Four oilfields include Cepu Field, Poleng Field dan Matindok Field.
Located in the eastern part of Indonesia, the oilfields in Asset Five are Sangatta Field, Bunyu Field, Tanjung Field, Sangasanga Field, Tarakan Field dan Papua Field.
Pertamina Hulu Mahakam – 42,000 BOPD
Pertamina Hulu Mahakam became the operator of the oil and gas fields located in the Mahakam Block on 1 January 2018. The fields were previously discovered and operated by Total along with Inpex as its partner. They acquired the block in 1966.
Several giant oil and gas fields are located in this block such as the Handil field, the Tunu field, and the Peciko field.
Pertamina Hulu Energi OSES (Offshore South East Sumatera) – 30,000 BOPD
Pertamina Hulu Energi OSES became the operator of the oil fields in Block South East Sumatera on September 6, 2018. The fields were previously operated by CNOOC, China National Offshore Oil Company.
Pertamina Hulu Energi ONWJ – 29,000 BOPD
Pertamina Hulu Energi ONWJ (PHE ONWJ) is currently the operator of the Offshore North West Java (ONWJ) production sharing contract following the change of company ownership from BP to Pertamina in July 2009.
The contract area, located in the Java Sea, covers an area of approximately 8,300 square kilometers – stretching from the North of Cirebon to Kepulauan Seribu.
The giant Ardjuna field is located in this Production Sharing Contract area. It was discovered by ARCO – Atlantic Richfield Company – in 1969 and operated by ARCO until BP – British Petroleum – acquired ARCO in 2000.
The production facilities consist of 670 wells, 170 shallow water platforms, 40 processing and service facilities and some 1,600 kilometers of sub-sea pipeline.
Medco EP Natuna – 16,000 BOPD
Medco EP Natuna, a subsidiary of Medco Energi, is the operator of the South Natuna Sea Block B. The field was initially operated by ConocoPhillips until Medco Energi acquired it in 2016.
Besides producing oil, Medco EP Natuna also supplies gas to Singapore using a 656 KM long 28” subsea pipeline.
Petronas Carigali (Ketapang) – 15,000 BOPD
Petronas Carigali Ketapang operates the Bukit Tua Field located in the Ketapang Block in East Java. Bukit Tua is an oil field but with a significant amount of associated gas. The offshore field is situated at a water depth of about 57 m.
The production facilities consist of wellhead platforms, an FPSO – Floating Production, Storage and Offloading – and onshore receiving facilities (ORF) in Gresik.
PetroChina International Jabung – 14,000 BOPD
PetroChina International Jabung operates the prolific Jabung Block located in Jambi in Central Sumatera.
The company produces crude oil, condensate, LPG and gas. PetroChina supplies gas to Singapore using a 450 KM long subsea pipeline.
An interesting aspect of the block is that PetroChina discovered the fractured basement rock contains a significant quantity of gas that can flow at significant rates.
Pertamina Hulu Kalimantan Timur – 13,000 BOPD
Pertamina Hulu Kalimantan Timur operates the East Kalimantan-Attaka Work Area. Chevron was the previous operator of the work area until it handed over the operatorship to Pertamina on October 25, 2018.
Attaka, the famous giant oil field is located in this block. The Attaka field was discovered and operated by Unocal until Chevron acquired it in 2005.
The oil fields in this work area are in the late declining phase. Around one billion barrels of oil and 3 TCF of gas have been produced from this work area.
Since 1966 when Indonesia began offering production sharing contracts (PSC) for international companies to explore and produce oil and gas in Indonesia, many giant and super-giant oil and gas fields were discovered.
Giant fields are those with estimated ultimate recoverable reserves (EUR) of 500 million barrels of oil or gas equivalent (MMBOE) and super giant oil fields are those holding an equivalent of 5.5 billion barrels of oil reserves.
Here are the ten giant offshore oil and gas fields in Indonesia discovered between 1966 and 2000.
1. Abadi Field
Abadi is a giant gas field discovered by Inpex in 2000 in the Masela contract area in the Arafura Sea. The Abadi field has an estimated ultimate recovery (EUR) of 768 MMBOE and it is located 93 miles offshore from the province of Maluku in the eastern part of Indonesia.
Originally the field would be developed using a subsea production system and a floating LNG (FLNG) facility. The plan now is to develop the field based on an onshore LNG development concept.
Inpex in partnership with Royal Dutch Shell is currently conducting preliminary front-end engineering design (Pre-FEED) studies for the Abadi field development based on an onshore concept. The LNG project will produce 9.5 MM tons of LNG annually.
When developed, the Abadi field may become the biggest deepwater gas project in Indonesia. It is expected to produce more than 1 billion SCF of gas per day and 20,000 barrels of condensate per day for 24 years.
2. Gula Field
The Gula field is an offshore gas field discovered by Unocal in its Ganal production sharing contract area located in the Kalimantan strait in 2000. With an estimated ultimate recovery (EUR) of 545 MMBOE, it is a giant gas field.
The Gula field, along with the Gendalo discovery and the Gada discovery, is one of the many discoveries made by Unocal in the deep-water area between Kalimantan and Sulawesi. These discoveries confirm that the Central Delta play contains world-class gas resources.
The Gula field is currently an undeveloped discovered resource.
3. Ubadari Field
Ubadari is a giant offshore gas field discovered in 1997. The Ubadari field has an EUR of 500 MMBOE and it is located at Bintuni Bay in West Irian province.
The Ubadari field will supply its gas to the Tangguh LNG plant when the Tangguh LNG Train-3 project is completed in 2020. The Tangguh expansion aims at meeting the ever-increasing demand for energy in Indonesia and accelerating the development of West Irian.
PLN, Indonesia’s electricity company, has signed a sales and purchase agreement to buy up to 1.5 million tons of LNG produced by Tangguh LNG plant annually.
Tangguh LNG plant is scheduled to process the gas produced from the six gas fields located at Bintuni Bay: Vorwata, Wiriagar Deep, Ofaweri, Roabiba, Ubadari, and Wos.
4. Vorwata Field
Vorwata is an offshore giant gas field located in Bintuni Bay in West Irian Province. The Vorwata field, with an EUR of 1833 MMBOE, was discovered by ARCO in the Berau block in 1997. BP became the operator of the Vorwata field after it acquired ARCO.
Gas production from the Vorwata field started in 2009. The field is capable of producing more than 1 BCF of gas per day and the gas is processed into LNG by the Tangguh LNG plant.
5. West Seno Field
The West Seno field is a deepwater oil field discovered by Unocal in 1996. Having an EUR of 553 MMBOE, it is a giant oil field and is currently operated by Chevron.
Lying in water depths of 2,400 to 3,400 feet, the West Seno field is Indonesia’s first deepwater development. It lies in the Makassar Strait PSC off Kalimantan on the continental slope of the northern Mahakam Delta.
The oil is produced using a tension leg platform and a floating production unit, tied back by two export pipelines to onshore infrastructure.
6. Peciko Field
Peciko is a gas field located offshore in the Mahakam Delta in East Kalimantan. The field was discovered by Total with INPEX as its partner in 1991. The Peciko is a giant gas field having an EUR of 1180 MMBOE.
Of all the producing fields in the Mahakam River delta, the Peciko field is unique in that its reservoir trap is both structural and stratigraphic.
The Peciko wells are highly productive having an average well productivity of 80 MMSCF of gas per day. Total daily gas production exceeded 1 BSCF during its peak. A substantial quantity of condensate is being produced along with the gas.
7. Tunu Field
The Tunu field is a supergiant gas field discovered by Total along with Inpex as its partner in 1977. It is located in the shallow waters along the outer limits of the delta offshore Mahakam Block in East Kalimantan. It has an EUR of 4378 MMBOE.
Started in 1978, the Tunu field produces gas and condensate having negligible CO2 or H2S, with the main productive reservoirs lying at depths from 2,200 to 4,900 meters.
Developing the large Tunu field is challenging and producing the gas requires drilling a large number of wells. The field has a large surface area of 20 Km wide and 75 Km long and it is located at the wetland of Mahakam swamp.
8. East Natuna Field
The offshore East Natuna gas field was discovered by AGIP in 1970. It is located 140 miles northeast of the Natuna Islands, Indonesia’s northernmost territory. It is a super-giant gas field with estimated recoverable reserves of 46 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of gas.
There were serious studies done and attempts made by Exxon-Mobil and Pertamina to develop this field.
The field is currently undeveloped due to its very high CO2 content of 71%. To produce the gas will require removing the CO2 from the gas and injecting it back into the reservoir. Production can be commercially viable when the price of oil is above $100 per barrel.
9. Attaka Field
The Attaka field is a giant oil and gas field discovered by Unocal in partnership with Inpex in 1970. Chevron became the field operator after it acquired Unocal in 2005. Having an EUR of 1000 MMBOE, the Attaka field is located 12 miles from the shore of East Kalimantan.
The huge Attaka reservoir, formed in the very prolific Kutei basin, has an areal closure of 8000 acres. Due to its large areal extent, originally the oil and gas were produced from more than 100 wells located in 6 remote wellhead platforms.
Ten years later, five subsea wells were completed in 1981-1984 to produce the untapped oil accumulation in areas out of reach of the existing remote platforms. These are the first subsea completions in Indonesia.
Attaka field daily oil production was 110,000 BOPD at its peak and gas production was 150 MMSCFPD. Now the Attaka field is quite depleted.
10. Ardjuna Field
The Ardjuna Field is a giant oil field having an EUR of 698 MMBOE. This is the first offshore giant field discovered since the birth of the Indonesian PSC system in 1966.
The Ardjuna field was discovered by ARCO in the Offshore North West Java (ONWJ) production sharing contract area in 1969. Subsequently, it was operated by BP when it acquired ARCO in 2000. Now the field is operated by Pertamina Hulu Energy ONWJ Ltd.
Interesting facts about the Ardjuna field include the drilling of the first horizontal well in Indonesia in 1985 and supplying gas to PLN’s power plant in Muara Karang in Jakarta in 1993.
Pertamina’s refinery in Cilacap began using crude oil from the Ardjuna field in 1986.