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ExxonMobil's Tapis enhanced oil recovery, or EOR, project, which will help sustain the current production level of Malaysia's Tapis blend crude, is expected to start up by the end of 2013, a spokeswoman with the oil major's Malaysian subsidiary said late Tuesday.

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The spokeswoman declined to disclose the current production level of the light sweet crude, but market sources have pegged it at 150,000 b/d.

Tapis blend has an API gravity of 45 and 0.03% sulfur content and is mainly used by Petronas at its own refineries. Current spot availability is around 300,000-600,000 barrels/month, down from 1.2 million barrels previously.


ExxonMobil and Malaysia's state-owned Petronas in June 2009 signed a production sharing contract for further development of seven ageing fields -- Tapis, Seligi, Guntong, Semangkok, Irong Barat, Tabu and Palas -- located offshore peninsular Malaysia. Crudes from these fields make up the Tapis blend grade.

Under the terms of the PSC, ExxonMobil and Petronas committed to spend a minimum $2.1 billion on major EOR project work, rejuvenation of facilities, and further development and drilling activities aimed at sustaining the current production level.

EOR can often help recover an additional 5-10% of the oil in place, the spokeswoman said.

"This may not sound like a lot, but if you have a sizeable resource in place it is quite substantial," she said in an email. "Over a period of 25 years we will get a lot more oil with this technique," she said.

ExxonMobil Malaysia last week announced that it had successfully completed construction of the Tapis R platform jacket and loaded it to be transported and installed in July at the Tapis field.

The Tapis R platform jacket is the substructure for the main central processing facility for the EOR project, the company had said in a statement.

Since production began from the field in 1978, approximately 400 million barrels of oil have been produced. "Newly initiated enhanced recovery techniques using alternating water and gas injection at the Tapis waterflood reservoirs are expected to improve oil recovery from the field," it said.

ExxonMobil operates 43 platforms in 17 fields in Malaysia, and is one of the country's major suppliers of crude oil and natural gas, according to the company's 2012 annual report. Its net production from Malaysia in 2012 averaged 40,000 b/d of liquids and 376,000 Mcf/d of gas.

--Mriganka Jaipuriyar, mriganka.jaipuriyar@platts.com

--Gabriel Yip, gabriel.yip@platts.com

--Edited by E Shailaja Nair, shailaja.nair@platts.com