PETALING JAYA: Exciting times lie ahead for Petronas as it explores new sources of oil and gas or “unconventional energy” at locations which include Canada and Australia.
The need for this was brought about by the fact that while the world is mainly powered by coal, petroleum and natural gas, these resources are found in conventional reservoirs that would one day run out.
Even as an oil-producing nation, Malaysia’s conventional oil and gas resources will eventually be depleted as they are finite in supply.
As alternative and renewable energy, like wind and solar power, remains expensive, the situation has prompted Petronas to re-consider other strategies.
“Petronas is investing heavily in unconventional energy as we are working hard to safeguard and ensure that there is sufficient energy supply for future generations” said Dr Chan Tuck Leong (pic), the process engineering head of Pacific Northwest LNG, a subsidiary of Petronas.
He said unconventional hydrocarbon resources were oil and gas, similar to what consumers use today.
“The difference is the geological source that they come from and therefore, the methods of exploring and producing these resources are different,” said Dr Chan.
Because of its distinct geological source, unconventional energy resources require different methods of extraction compared to traditional resources such as those located in offshore Malaysia.
An example of such unconventional hydrocarbons is shale gas, which is natural gas trapped in shale formation inside sedimentary rocks.
These shale reservoirs are typically very large and extraction includes wells being drilled vertically hundreds to thousands of metres below the land surface.
In its venture in Canada, Petronas will be converting natural gas extracted from the shale reservoirs into liquefied natural gas (LNG), similar to its operations in Malaysia LNG, Bintulu.
Converting the natural gas to LNG allows the product to be transported to distant markets that cannot be reached by pipeline.
Apart from Canada, Petronas has been exploring and producing different types of unconventional energy in Australia too.
“These are exciting times for Petronas,” Dr Chan said
“It is a huge milestone for the company – venturing into the unconventional energy sector in Canada – but it is also necessary as we push forward in our commitment towards exploring additional energy sources,” he said.
Dr Chan said these investments might not see immediate returns, but “would definitely benefit future generations”.