Vietnam’s economy

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Vietnam’s economy has expanded rapidly in recent years, with its real gross domestic product (GDP) growing 7.7% in 2004 and 8.4% in 2005. Growth is forecast at 8.0% in 2006. Vietnam has had Normal Trade Relations status with the United States since late 2001, with 2002 marking the first time Vietnam shipped more goods to the United States than to Japan. Despite rising exports, Vietnam currently runs a slight trade deficit, but is projected to begin having trade surpluses by 2007.

Much of Vietnam’s large rural population relies heavily on non-commercial biomass energy sources such as wood, dung, and rice husks. As a result, Vietnam’s per capita commercial energy consumption ranks among the lowest in Asia. The country’s commercial energy consumption is predicted to rise in coming years, primarily due to increases in the use of natural gas.

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Vietnam claims ownership of a portion of the potentially hydrocarbon-rich Spratly Islands, as do the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, China, and Taiwan. Vietnam, China, and the Philippines agreed in March 2005 to conduct a joint seismic survey for potential oil and natural gas reserves in a portion of the disputed area. Vietnam also claims the Paracel Islands, which China first occupied in 1974.

Oil:

Vietnam’s Oil Production and Consumption, 1980-2005. (Source: EIA, International Energy Annual 2003, internal EIA estimates.).

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Vietnam’s Oil Production and Consumption, 1980-2005. (Source: EIA, International Energy Annual 2003, internal EIA estimates.)

Vietnam has 600 million barrels of proven oil reserves, according to data from Oil and Gas Journal, but that total is likely to increase as exploration continues. Crude oil production averaged 370,000 barrels per day (bbl/d) in 2005, down somewhat from the 403,000 bbl/d level achieved in 2004. Bach Ho (White Tiger), Rang Dong (Dawn), Hang Ngoc, Dai Hung (Big Bear), and Su Tu Den (Ruby) are the largest oil producing fields in the country. Although it is a significant oil producer, Vietnam remains reliant on imports of petroleum products due to a lack of refining capacity. Overall, Vietnam had net exports of 111,000 bbl/d of oil in 2005. Most of Vietnam’s crude oil is exported to refiners in Japan, Singapore, and South Korea.

Vietnam’s largest oil producer is Vietsovpetro (VSP), a joint venture (JV) between PetroVietnam and Zarubezhneft of Russia. VSP operates Vietnam’s largest oil field, Bach Ho. Other foreign partners include ConocoPhillips, BP, Petronas, and Talisman Energy.

Following the October 2003 commencement of drilling operations in the Su Tu Den (Black Lion) crude field, PetroVietnam reported increasing production volumes. PetroVietnam’s April 2003 discovery of an oil deposit in Dai Hung, estimated to have a capacity of 6,300 bbl/d, was expected to further increase Vietnamese production. The decline in production overall from 2004 to 2005 was primarily the result of declining production at the Bach Ho field.

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