ONSHORE oil exploration will begin in northern Sarawak soon to uncover possible oil reserves in the mainland that have been left untapped since the days of the great oil-rush in the early 1900s.
Miri Mayor Lawrence Lai yesterday said he had been informed that Nippon Oil had identified an area of more than 4,000 sq metres somewhere to kick-start the onshore oil exploration.
This will be the first time after almost 100 years that onshore oil exploration is to be carried out again in Sarawak. The Canadians started drilling the country’s very first oil well on top of Canada Hill overlooking Miri in 1910.
That oil well, dubbed the Grand Old Lady, is now a monument.
Since then, more than 200 inland oil wells were drilled and tapped, but later, oil exploration and drilling were shifted offshore of Miri following the discovery of massive oil fields in the South China Sea that rendered inland drilling obsolete.
However, the state government now feels that there are possibilities of uncovering substantial oil reserves on land in northern Sarawak which has been left untapped.
Lai said apart from Miri, Nippon Oil was also targetting some other potential oil sites in Marudi and upper Baram, more than 200km from Miri City.
“Nippon Oil is now holding briefings with the relevant authorities about these potential onshore oil reserves.
“Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan was supposed to come today for a briefing on the matter, but he could not make it due to official duties elsewhere,’’ he added.
Lai said if the exploration was positive, it would herald in another era of social-economic boom in Miri.
Last month, Dr Chan had said that Nippon Oil would explore for new oil reserves in the unexplored seas off Miri coast.
Lai said the inland exploration by Nippon Oil would utilise the latest technology in oil exploration.