The energy transition is upon us. The challenge for governments, communities and businesses is in delivering a transition that delivers affordable, reliable and ever cleaner energy for all.
Of course, the energy system has always been evolving and the good news is we can learn from that. Long before Chevron Thailand helped pioneer natural gas development in the Gulf of Thailand, we were selling Kerosene fuel. Today Chevron is piloting electric vehicle charging stations at our Caltex service stations.
The existential challenges of the energy transition came to mind this week with the signing of several agreements to continue the safe transition of the Erawan concession to its future operator PTTEP ED, itself a significant milestone for Thailand’s energy sector.
These agreements - which enable PTTEP ED’s early access to Erawan, set out how operations will be handed over and ensure Chevron’s important decommissioning work continues post-handover - demonstrate the cooperation between Chevron and PTTEP ED. They also represent a reminder of the strong and enduring partnership between Chevron and the Kingdom of Thailand.
More than 40 years ago, we helped launch the Kingdom’s modern oil and gas industry with the discovery and development of natural gas from Thailand’s first commercial gas field – Erawan. While success at Erawan was never guaranteed, the strong partnership between Chevron and the Kingdom gave Chevron the confidence to apply its innovative technology to the geologically complex Gulf of Thailand.
It was an ambitious undertaking, but Erawan’s start-up in 1981 marked a new era for Thailand, fueling economic growth and powering human progress with lower carbon, affordable and reliable energy and becoming a model for the way other fields were developed in the Gulf of Thailand. During the following decades Chevron invested $42 billion in Thailand. Natural gas and feedstock from the field also spurred the growth of Thailand’s impressive petrochemical industry, which supports thousands of jobs and yields important materials and products for domestic use and export.
Techniques developed here have also been exported globally. Chevron’s pioneering “well factory” approach developed in the Gulf of Thailand is being applied in some of Chevron’s key global operations, such as the Permian Basin in the United States. Erawan also saw an entire generation of skilled technical Thai workers receive unparalleled access to training and development – with a number deploying their talents internationally across Chevron’s operations. In parallel, the partnership with the Kingdom has seen Chevron invest heavily in health, STEM education and economic development to strengthen communities and provide opportunities for the next generation.
To me, the key to a successful energy transition will be in the creation and maintenance of these kinds of partnerships between governments and world leading companies that will enable innovative technology and investment to deliver the kind of future we want.
Strong partnership made the development of the complex Gulf of Thailand geology possible, changing the lives of a generation of Thai people. Partnership can also make the complex transition of the Erawan operation possible, ensuring that energy can continue to be provided safely and reliably for the next generation and that rights of concessionaires are maintained.
Chevron partnered with the Kingdom to develop Erawan with the shared understanding that there is no industry more consequential – or more crucial to our lives – than energy. Access to safe and reliable energy powers economies, empowers communities and improves lives.
As we work together towards net zero, Thailand can build on a proven system, one that is already providing a lower carbon source of energy, while developing and scaling new technologies to facilitate energy transition. Natural gas, already the cleanest of the fossil fuels, can underpin energy transition and this is especially so in Thailand with many remaining domestic resource opportunities. Energy conservation will also play a role, renewables will become even more important and new forms of energy, including hydrogen and CCUS, must be developed at scale.
This will call for new and strengthened partnerships, new collaborations, new investments, and new innovation. The energy future of Thailand, and the wider region, will be defined by how partnerships, investments and innovation can be leveraged to find complementary, not competing, solutions.
The development of Erawan over 40 years ago was an ambitious undertaking. The geology was complex, the solutions were unique, and the result was nation changing. That success was achieved because of the strong partnership between Chevron and the Kingdom, built on a shared understanding of the critical role energy plays in the development of economies and communities.
As we begin the next chapter in Thailand’s energy future, one where we will face the challenges of ensuring energy supplies today, and advancing towards net zero, partnerships are more important than ever.
Published : December 29, 2021