The Bekapai – From an oil field to a gas field

The Bekapai field underwent Phase 2B Expansion. Photo from Pertamina.


In 2022, the Bekapai oil field, located offshore of the Mahakam Delta in East Kalimantan in Indonesia, celebrates its 50th anniversary.

The Bekapai field was discovered in April 1972 by Total along with its partner, Japex.

The field was almost undiscovered had Total’s exploration team given up its exploration drilling campaign after drilling six dry wells.

With the discovery of the Bekapai field, Total Indonesie went on to discover many big oil and gas fields in the Mahakam block – Tunu, Sisi-Nubi, Tambora, Handil, and Peciko.

Although the Bekapai is not as big as the other fields in the Mahakam block, the Bekapai field is the most well-known field in the Mahakam block being the first oil field that was discovered by Total Indonesie in East Kalimantan. A nice park in Balikpapan is named after Bekapai – Bekapai Park.


The reservoirs of the Bekapai field are described as complex multi-layered reservoirs.

Total Indonesie constructed ten platforms and drilled 74 development wells between 1974 and 1996.

The Bekapai field began as an oil field. Oil production started in 1974 with peak production at around 60,000 BOPD in 1978. Then its oil production declined slowly until it reached around 1,000 BOPD in 2007.

As its oil production reached its lowest level, to rejuvenate its oil and gas production the field underwent several redevelopment and transformation projects.


Phase 1 Expansion

Total Indonesie initiated the Phase 1 field expansion project in 2008. The company drilled 9 development wells and production increased to 10,000 BOPD and 46 MMSCFD of gas by 2013.

With the success achieved in Phase 1 Expansion, the company conducted a 3D seismic survey to assess the potential of the Bekapai field for further development.

Phase 2A Expansion

Based on the encouraging seismic results, the company embarked on the Phase 2A expansion project to further develop the Bekapai Field.

The company drilled two development wells in 2014 and its oil production increased to 11,500 BOPD. This is a record oil production rate of the Bekapai field in its first 25 years of production.

Phase 2B Expansion

As the oil reserves of the Bekapai are depleted, Total’s engineers turn their attention to producing its gas.

The objective of Phase 2B Expansion is to produce the so-far untapped gas accumulation in the Bekapai reservoirs. The plan is to increase the capacity of the field to produce 100 MMSCFD of gas.

Here were what was involved in the Phase 2B Expansion Project.

  • Produced the gas remaining in the gas caps.
  • Increased the capacity of the offshore production facilities to produce 100 MMSCFD of gas.
  • Platform modifications
  • Constructing a 12,6 km long submarine 12-inch pipeline from the Bekapai field to the Peciko field.

Phase 2B Expansion transformed the Bekapai field from an oil field to a gas field. The project increased the gas production of the Bekapai field from around 40 MMSCFD to 92 MMSCFD in 2015, making it a significant gas contributor to LNG production.

Phase 3 Expansion

Pertamina Hulu Mahakam as the new operator continues to further tap the gas potentials of the Bekapai field under the Phase 3 Expansion.

This ongoing expansion project involves modifying the manifold wellhead platforms BH and BE to accommodate 5 new development wells.

This project is expected to produce an additional 27 MMSCFD of gas when it is completed in November 2022.


On January 2, 2018, Pertamina Hulu Mahakam became the operator of the Bekapai field and all the fields in the Mahakam block.

Pertamina Hulu Mahakam maintains the spirit of innovation and continues to develop the remaining potential of the 50-year-old oil field.

Pertamina Hulu Mahakam managed to reach ten years without LTI (Lost Time Injury) on August 27, 2021.

And finally, with the saying “An old oil field never dies”, may the Bekapai field continues to find a new life.

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