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Myanmar news roundup

The recent election in Myanmar has opened up the market for the oil and gas industry, with foreign investment in the nation more welcome now than it has been for years. As a result, activity in this region has increased rapidly.

Mostly this has come in the form of exploration, with companies rushing to take advantage of Myanmar's considerable oil reserves. However, companies are also investing in drilling and construction of facilities.


3D surveying to begin in offshore Myanmar

The oil-rich Rakhine Basin off the coast of Myanmar is seeing a new round of exploration, as two major energy companies attempt to uncover reserves of the precious research. Both the UK's BG Group and Australia's Woodside Energy have begun 3D seismic surveying with state of the art ships and equipment.

Woodside began its operation on November 20th. Using a Ramform Titan ship, the firm intends to continue surveying in the Rakhine Basin until mid-April 2016. BG Group, which is using a Ramform Sovereign, will be carrying out its own project for roughly the same time period.

The reason for the six-month duration of the surveying is the sheer size of the blocks. BG Group is working in deep water block AD-2 and shallow water block A-4, while Woodside's vessel will be operating in deep water block AD-5 and shallow water A-7. Combined, these blocks cover an area of around 30,000 sq km.

Myanmar Petroleum Exploration and Production will be working as the local partner for both firms, owning ten per cent of both the A-4 and A-7 blocks. This was agreed in 2013m when the two international firms were originally awarded the right to exploration and production activities in the four Rakhine Basin oil blocks.

Both companies have agreed - based on a production-sharing contract with Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE) signed in March - to invest over $1 billion in these blocks over the exploration period. This is expected to last between six and eight years in total.


Puma Energy to build $100m fuel facility near Yangon

A new oil storage facility has been planned for southern Myanmar, thanks to an investment from one of the largest oil traders in the world. The company in charge of this project is Puma Energy International, a fuel retail and storage firm owned by Trafigura Pte ltd.

Based out of London, Trafigura is the third-largest independent oil trader on Earth. it has recently stepped up its operations in Asia, and as part of this it is hoping to gain from the changing political situation in Myanmar following the election of Aung San Suu Kyi’s opposition party.

The new government's plan is to invest heavily in industries that will help it grow its economy, and while details of this have not been released, many firms are investing in Myanmar anyway. Trafigura has seen the opportunities the nation's oil and gas sector presents now it is more open to foreign investment, and as a result has decided on the construction of the new facility.

With an estimated worth of around $100 million, the facility will contain storage tanks for bitumen and petroleum products with a total capacity of around 97,000 cubic m. It will be built at Thilawa Port, which is located roughly 23 km south of Myanmar's capital of Yangon.

Puma will be the first foreign company to build oil storage facilities in Myanmar. According to Bloomberg, the company's chief financial officer Denis Chazarain said that Myanmar is "a really promising market".


Major exploration projects in Myanmar

MOGE has announced the start of a number of surveys in Myanmar's oil blocks in a period that the agency has predicted will be the busiest the nation has ever seen for offshore activity. In addition to the new firms joining the oil market, existing businesses are beginning to increase their activities in the region.

The Rakhine Basin will be the location for many of these activities, with two of the oil and gas industry's largest firms exploring in this area. The first of these is Shell, which along with its Japanese partner Mitsui Oil Exploration will be conducting seismic surveys on the AD-9 and AD-11 blocks. Shell will also be surveying block MD-5 in the Tanintharyi Basin.

Also exploring the Rakhine Basin is Unocal Myanmar Offshore, a subsidiary of Chevron. The firm began 3D seismic surveying on October 26th in block A-5, which is expected to continue until the end of January 2016. Unocal is using a Viking Vision ship for this task.

Finally, PC Myanmar (Hong Kong) began drilling development wells in the Yetagun field in the Andaman Sea on November 1st. The company - a subsidiary of the Malaysian state firm Petronas - will continue this drilling until the end of July 2016 in a bid to increase its oil production.

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