BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, March 22 (Xinhua) -- Brunei has earmarked 1.65 billion Brunei dollars (1.2 billion U.S. dollars) for the development of new oil and gas fields and the acceleration of exploration activities this year as it sets its sights on increasing petroleum production by 30 percent over the next five years.
Minister of Energy, Manpower and Industry Hj Mat Suny said the investment aims to secure Brunei's petroleum industry, which makes up 57.3 percent of the country's economy.
"This is a huge investment to ensure that oil and gas production is sustainable in the future. This investment will bring about a significant economic impact on local entrepreneurs and the service industry," he said on Thursday's Legislative Council meeting.
The minister said they will start drilling five new exploration wells, including two key wells, this year to determine the potential of the new locations.
Hj Mat Suny also said that there are plans to look into deep water exploration in areas with a depth of two km.
He said that the sultanate is also aiming to increase oil and gas production by 9,500 barrels per day this year, to 121,000 barrels per day from 111,500 barrels per day in 2018.
The minister said that Hengyi Industries' oil refinery and petrochemical plant at Pulau Muara Besar (PMB)is expected to contribute to a more secure supply of domestic petroleum products this year.
Hengyi Industries is a joint venture between China's Zhejiang Hengyi Group and Damai Holdings, a wholly owned subsidiary under Brunei government's Strategic Development Capital Fund, with the two owning 70 percent and 30 percent of the joint venture respectively.
Hengyi's investment into PMB is the largest foreign direct investment into Brunei from China so far, which is due to help the southeast Asian country to upgrade its industries, alleviate its dependency on oil import and also boost economic and trade cooperation between Brunei and China.