Thailand’s PTT seeks to buy blocks from Murphy Oil of U.S.

The exploration arm of Thai energy conglomerate PTT said last week it is negotiating with Murphy Oil Corporation of the United States to buy its offshore blocks in Viet Nam and Brunei, having already purchased Murphy’s business in Malaysia.

Phongsthorn Thavisin, president and chief executive of PTT Exploration and Production (PTTEP), said the partially privatized energy company has $4 billion in cash for acquisitions and he expects to close the deals for Murphy’s Brunei and Viet Nam projects by June. Both projects are in the exploration stage.

Phongsthorn also said PTTEP is interested in acquiring projects in North America when the price of oil becomes more stable.

Murphy Oil’s website said it has entered into two production-sharing agreements: one for properties in offshore Brunei in late 2010 and another with Vietnam National Oil and Gas Group and PetroVietnam Exploration Production Co in November 2012. Murphy has rights to four blocks in Viet Nam.

PTTEP has been expanding aggressively around the Southeast Asian region and beyond in order to cope with diminishing natural gas reserves in the Gulf of Thailand. While Thailand has set ambitious goals for sourcing power from renewables, natural gas and oil are still major components of its energy supplies.

PTTEP’s negotiations with Murphy Oil for its projects in Viet Nam and Brunei became public in a filing to the Stock Exchange of Thailand detailing its acquisition of Murphy’s Malaysia business.

PTTEP paid $2.13 billion for Murphy Sarawak Oil and Murphy Sabah Oil, covering five petroleum exploration and production projects. PTTEP said it would set aside $300-400 million a year for its Malaysia projects to maintain gas production and expansion capacity in the long run.