What Fracking Means for Southeast Asia
From The Diplomat
By Luke Hunt
Despite the rhetoric, Southeast Asian governments have been slow to tap their oil reserves. Fracking could make progress even slower.
Oil and gas have long held the promise of untold riches for Southeast Asian countries. Yet, success in the region has been mixed: Brunei has flourished and Malaysia has seen steady progress, but Burma, Cambodia, the Philippines, Vietnam and East Timor have struggled to exploit their reserves.
Negotiations with oil companies and powerful neighbors are already tough as it is. However, the advent of hydraulic fracturing (a.k.a. fracking) will make this process even more difficult, especially when it comes to developing reserves in the South China Sea, the Gulf of Thailand, the Timor Sea and the Andaman Sea.
The term “fracking” refers to the practice of making fractures in rocks and rock formations by injecting various fluids into cracks to force them to further open. The bigger fissures permit added oil and gas to gush out of the formation and into the wellbore, where it can then be extracted. This innovative technique for tapping reserves has revolutionized the oil and gas industry. To be sure, many harbor deep concerns for the damage it can cause to the environment. Nonetheless, its ability to extend the life of existing oil fields has changed the industry’s outlook.
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