press release

Unocal Thailand completes 1,000th well

Unocal Thailand, a major natural gas producer in Thailand, announced today it had recently drilled its 1,000th well -- the first such milestone reached by a petroleum concessionaire in Thailand.

The total number of wells drilled by all concessionaires to date stands at about 1,500. Unocal, with 35 years of business in Thailand, was the first company to undertake oil and gas exploration in the Kingdom.

The Pailin-30 well in Block B12/27 in the Gulf of Thailand marked this milestone for the company, whose first well, Kuchinarai-1, was drilled in 1971 in Kalasin province on the Khorat Plateau of the Northeast.

The 1,000 wells were drilled both onshore and offshore. Since 1971, Unocal has drilled an average of 55 wells a year, but the pace of drilling has accelerated in the past several years thanks to technological improvements and the increasing demand for natural gas. About 150 wells are planned for this year alone.

"We are now drilling faster and have become much more efficient," said Brian Marcotte, company president. "The use of innovative, environmentally friendly drilling fluids and slimhole drilling are also critical factors for the achievement," he added.

Before 1981, Unocal spent over $5 million and 68 days in drilling a typical gas well, about 11,000 feet or three kilometers deep. The company now spends only $800,000 drilling a well in less than six days.

"Advanced geological and three-dimensional geophysical exploration methods have helped us map out complicated and deep gas reservoirs before drilling even begins. In addition, we can now drill three-dimensional wells whose wellbores are steered in different directions to targets underneath the Gulf -- which is characterized by complex geological conditions and severe pressure and temperature conditions," said Marcotte. According to the company, bottomhole temperatures beneath the Gulf often exceed 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Gulf of Thailand is the country's major source of natural gas. Until 1993, Unocal was the sole producer of offshore natural gas -- a popular fuel because of its clean and efficient qualities. Today it remains the leading gas producer, accounting for about two-thirds of the total production from the Gulf each day.

Besides operating nine gas fields in the Gulf, Unocal is a partner with Thai Oil and Westinghouse in Independent Power (Thailand) Co., Ltd., Thailand's first electricity producer under Thailand's Independent Power Producer (IPP) program. It has also launched a new petroleum exploration program in the deepwater part of the Andaman Sea.

Updated: May 1997