SK Earthon, a subsidiary of South Korean energy giant SK Innovation specializing in oil exploration and production, said Monday that it has commenced its first independent crude oil production in the Lufeng 12-3 oil field, part of Block 17/03 in the South China Sea, starting this September.
Located approximately 300 kilometers from Shenzhen, China, the oil field is projected to cater to over 1 percent of South Korea's daily oil consumption, with an output of around 29,500 barrels at its peak.
This marks the company's first successful oil yield from a concession it manages directly. SK Earthon manages every stage, from the preliminary seismic surveys to the eventual drilling and production, using its proprietary technology.
To combat the carbon dioxide emissions generated during the oil extraction phase, the firm has incorporated several eco-conscious measures in their production infrastructure. These include reusing waste heat from generator exhaust and utilizing electrified components.
The company is also exploring the idea of using vessels powered by liquefied natural gas and harnessing other renewable energy sources.
This project has gained traction with the support of the Korean government's energy financing program, which has been endorsing resource development projects since 1984. As oil production in this block begins, SK Earthon has pledged to repay the government's loan principal and interest. Subsequently, a portion of the profits will be remitted to the government for a specified period.
Founded in 2021, SK Earthon was conceived from SK Innovation to focus on petroleum development and eco-friendly pursuits. SK Innovation had initially ventured into overseas resource development in 1983 in Indonesia.
In 2015, the company became the first domestic private firm to engage in the offshore oil block business in the South China Sea by securing an exploration and production rights agreement with China National Offshore Oil Corporation, the state-owned offshore oil and gas producer.
Three years later in 2018, after conducting geological surveys, SK Earthon uncovered the presence of crude oil in Oil Block 17/03. This discovery led them through various developmental phases, such as evaluating the oil field and constructing the necessary facilities for production.
Currently, SK Earthon oversees 10 oil blocks and four LNG initiatives in eight countries, with a production rate of roughly 52,000 barrels of oil equivalent daily.
Leveraging their proficiency in exploration, the company is also carrying out its Carbon Capture and Storage initiative to discover carbon dioxide storage sites both domestically and internationally.
"As the pioneering South Korean private firm in overseas resource development since 1983, our 40 years of expertise have culminated in this autonomous crude oil production,” said SK Earthon CEO Myeong Seong.