George Barber

Country Manager Indonesia at Terra Energy & Resource Technologies, (TERT) Inc.
Last Updated: September 25, 2017
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Exploration
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It is a shame to spoil natures natural beauty as we can see from the picture that leads this article, Indonesia is blessed with many such areas, in order to preserve nature and what has been given to all of us, we need to explore in an environmentally friendly way and adapt to new ideas, after all, if mankind is to survive, resources will always be required.

Richard Fuller recently published a very interesting article in the Jakarta Post (JP) titled “The risk of losing an important asset – natural gas”. In this article, he mentioned that the cost of 2D, 3D seismic over ten years would be $2 billion, a figure that makes one eyes water, with an extremely long time frame (10 years). It was also stated that by continuing to pursue oil and gas exploration under the historic and current procedures that Indonesia would lose $1.1 trillion in economic benefits, another eye-watering figure, even in Rupiah too many of us. 

The Vice President of Indonesia, Jusuf Kalla made a statement at the opening ceremony for the IIGCE conference on 2 August that the cost of exploration for geothermal is quite high, considering the cost of exploration required for the development of one Geothermal Working Area (WKP) is approximately US $20-25 million. We need to bear in mind that one WKP is normally forty to fifty Square Kilometre in size and that the total length of the geothermal arc in Indonesia is 5100 km.

I made the following statements at the IIGCE conference during my presentation which was titled "Exploration Requirements to Achieve the Geothermal Development 2025 Target” that “Speculation should not be a part of the geothermal vocabulary, neither should the common belief that exploration costs are high.  Yes, they are if we insist on not accepting or adapting our exploration methods to Innovative Exploration Tools (IET) that do reduce the Time, Cost and Risk of Exploration”.

“Many parts of Indonesia are unexplorable by traditional methods of exploration, large parts of Indonesia's resources potential has not been explored, actual resources are not known. Current pre-drilling practices for geothermal exploration methods are time-intensive, costly and do not achieve active reservoir imaging”. 

IET will provide the information and data that will encourage license tender participation and investment, which in turn will generate further interest in the Indonesian geothermal and resource industry”.  This also applies to oil, gas, and minerals. 

Another article in the JP that was titled “Oil crisis lurks as production drops, consumption soars”, in this article it states that Indonesia has depleted more than 90% of their oil reserves within a period of sixty years, this can not be a true, as Indonesia does not know the actual reserves that it had or has, neither does it know the full potential of the geothermal and mineral resources available, all estimations are speculation, based on extremely experienced consultants and geoscientists reports, who by the way get paid vast sums of money very often from the taxpayers money. These reports are speculation and only become reality when they have been confirmed by exploration, which is unlikely to happen when we look at the eye-watering figures that are being quoted. 

There is a Roadmap Project called “Geothermal Island Flores” with cooperation from the British government through FCO-UK at the British Embassy and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). The project is developing a related study "Tariff Model Geothermal Energy and Geothermal Roadmap. It is intended to make Flores a Geothermal showcase for Indonesia. This is a very good idea, although exploration is required.

One of the problems, in my opinion, is that there are far too many companies that have self-interest, they have invested in certain exploration tools and of course want this expensive equipment to be used, drilling companies want to drill more holes, seismic companies want to run more kilometres, do they care if a resource is found or nature is destroyed? The owner of a block, mine or geothermal working area should care as it is them that are paying for very expensive methods of exploration, which by the way has not changed in many years, seismic has been around for 100 years, it makes a noise, we get a return, this is what it did 100 years ago, the principle is the same, the tools have improved tremendously over the years, especially with the processing power with the advent of powerful computers, but at the end of the day, the principle is the same. These tools were designed out of necessity.

Is it not time that new ideas for exploration that enhances our way of doing exploration are used, tools that have been designed by geoscientists, geologists, people of the trade, based on sound and proven geoscience and geology which by the way has also not changed so much over the years. Drilling and seismic companies will be doing more as the overall cost of exploration is reduced, instead of today where they are doing very little work.

Should we not be accepting IET as part of the exploration toolbox? Of course we should, the same way that we accepted in the mid 1980’s new ways of conducting hydrographic surveys which improved the output and the quality of surveys, no one lost jobs, in fact more jobs were created as the ships were able to spend more time at sea collecting data instead of drawing the results by hand. 

Innovative exploration programs will provide the information and data that will encourage license tender participation and investment, which in turn will generate further interest in the Indonesian geothermal and resource industry at a fraction of the costs that have been suggested in this article and in far less time, months rather than years.

Indonesia must elevate the value and level of information given to investors and it must invest to do this, but invest wisely, not with methods that we know carry high-risk. New thinking and new strategies are required to meet this challenge. The government and the industry need to work together to achieve their mutual goals. An examination of government policy related to the exploration industry is also in order, but first and foremost we must further de-risk exploration investment, and use innovative, cost-effective tools which can bridge the gap and at the same time save the unnecessary destruction of our environment by carrying out exploration looking for something that may not exist.

“With the technology at our disposal, the possibilities are unbounded. All we need to do is make sure we use it” – Stephen Hawking

 


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