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2014-05-28 18:09:00



Country Analysis Note

Over the past few decades Vietnam has emerged as an important oil and natural gas producer in Southeast Asia. Vietnam has boosted exploration activities, allowed for greater foreign company investment and cooperation in the oil and gas sectors, and introduced market reforms to support the energy industry. These measures have helped to increase oil and gas production. Also, the country's rapid economic growth, industrialization, and export market expansion have spurred domestic energy consumption.

Successful exploration has recently led to a substantial increase in proved crude oil reserves, which grew to 4.4 billion barrels as of January 2013 from 0.6 billion barrels two years prior. Vietnam's efforts to intensify exploration and development of its offshore fields have contributed to the growth in reserves. Ongoing exploration activities could increase this figure in the future, as Vietnam's waters remain relatively underexplored. Vietnam is currently the third-largest holder of crude oil reserves in Asia, behind China and India.

Vietnam produced around 364,000 barrels per day (bbl/d) of oil in 2012, down from its peak of 403,000 bbl/d in 2004. The Cuu Long Basin has been the primary area for oil production.

Vietnam is a net exporter of crude oil, but is a net importer of oil products. With oil consumption doubling from 176,000 bbl/d in 2000 to 388,000 bbl/d in 2012, the country must import a majority of refined products to satisfy demand.

Vietnam has one operating refinery, the 140,000-bbl/d Dung Quat refinery, which came online in 2009. Vietnam's state-owned Vietnam Oil & Gas Corporation (PetroVietnam) is looking to boost crude distillation capacity to around 200,000 bbl/d by 2017 and to develop Dung Quat's ability to handle sweet and less expensive sour crude oil from Russia, the Middle East, and Venezuela. Vietnam plans to offer 49 percent of Dung Quat's equity to foreign investors in order to finance the expansion of Dung Quat. The Vietnamese government is looking to build two additional refineries, Nghi Son and Long Son, though there have been financial and land clearing issues that have prevented the completion of these refineries.

PetroVietnam is the key company in the oil and natural gas sectors and serves as the primary operator and regulator of the industry. Oil and natural gas production is either undertaken by PetroVietnam's upstream subsidiary, PetroVietnam Exploration and Production (PVEP), or through PetroVietnam's joint venture with other companies.

International Oil Companies (IOCs) such as ExxonMobil, Chevron, and Zarubezhneft have formed partnerships with PetroVietnam. IOCs must receive approval from the Oil and Gas Department of the Prime Minister, and must negotiate upstream licenses with PVEP.

Vietnam currently holds 24.7 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of proved natural gas reserves, up from 6.8 Tcf in 2011. Increased foreign investment since 2007 has led to greater exploration, significantly increasing Vietnam's proved natural gas reserves.

Vietnam produced 272 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of dry natural gas in 2011, all of which was domestically consumed. The country is currently self-sufficient in natural gas, but PetroVietnam predicts that there will be a natural gas supply gap of 1.3 Bcf per day by 2025 as demand surpasses supply.

The Vietnamese government has considered importing liquefied natural gas (LNG) in the future to meet growing natural gas demand. PetroVietnam (PV) Gas has signed a memorandum of understanding and a front-end engineering and development (FEED) contract with the Tokyo Gas Company to develop the Thi Vai LNG terminal in the Vung Tau province.

Vietnam produced about 49,079 thousand short tons of coal in 2011, of which almost half (23,739 thousand short tons) was domestically consumed. Vietnam exports a large portion of its coal and also imports a small amount. In 2013, the Vietnamese government increased the coal export tax to 13 percent from 10 percent to reduce exports and satisfy growing energy demand with domestic production, particularly in the power sector. Electricity consumption nearly quadrupled from 22 billion kilowatthours (KWh) in 2000 to 86 billion KWh in 2010 and was generated almost entirely by hydropower, natural gas, and coal. Vietnam anticipates power demand to more than triple to 330 billion KWh by 2020.

Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, China, Taiwan, and Brunei all claim sovereignty over the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, which remains a key territorial dispute for Vietnam. Vietnam and several of its neighbors have reached agreements in principle in the past to conduct joint exploration for oil and natural gas resources in the area, although continued territorial disagreements have hindered these efforts.




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