Aeilko Jans Zijklert, a young Duch tobacco planter found first Indonesian oil at Telaga Tunggal, in Sumatra’s east Coast, in 1885; a few decades before the oil discoveries in Jambi.
Numerous oil and gas seeps occur in South Sumatra in the foothills of the Gumai and Barisan mountains and are associated with anticlines. Early exploration was guided by such surface seeps and led to the discovery of Kampung Minyak Field in South Sumatra in 1886. This field reportedly contained reserves of 31.3 million barrels of oil equivalent.
First wells were drilled in Jambi on the north bank of the River Musi, forty miles from its mouth, in east Sumatra in 1922. Not much can be found today about the first oil discovered in the area but the success was immediate and pumping to the Palembang refinery started in 1923.
Oil exploration continues today in Jambi where the state oil company Pertamina remains active. Coal bed methane blocks have been offered in 2017. In May 2018, Talisman West Bengara teamed up with Mitsui Oil Exploration South Sumatra to win the Southeast Jambi work area. In December 2017, the Jakarta Post reported that Pertamina, had to close number of illegal wells in Pompa Air village in Jambi area.
(Drilling rig in Jambi, early 70’s and Bristow Wessex helicopter – Image: Dave Ed. Bristow helicopters pilot)