July 9, 2008

Indian Company to Start Drilling Gas in Burma

Text of report in English by official Chinese news agency Xinhua (New China News Agency)

[Xinhua: "Indian Company To Start Drilling Gas in Myanmar"]

YANGON, July 9 (Xinhua) - An Indian oil company, the Essar, will start drilling test well at an inland block in Myanmar's western coastal Rakhine state to explore natural gas in the coming open season later this year, news journal 7-Day reported Wednesday.

The drilling will take place at block-L covering Sittway and Maungtaw regions of the state.

Block-L stands one of the two blocks which the Indian company is to explore gas under a contract signed with the state-run Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise in May 2005. The exploration on another block A-2 lying off the Rakhine coast will follow later, earlier report said.

The Essar is another Indian company engaged in oil and gas exploration in Myanmar after the ONGC Videsh Ltd of India and the Gas Authority of India Ltd (GAIL), both of which are being involved in similar activities since 2000 at Block A-1 and A-3 in the same offshore area in partnership with South Korea's Daewoo International Corporation and South Korea Gas Corporation. The consortium is led by Daewoo.

Myanmar has abundance of natural gas resources especially in the offshore areas. With three main large offshore oil and gas fields and 19 onshore ones, Myanmar has proven recoverable reserve of 510 billion cubic-meters out of 2.54 trillion cubic-meters's estimated reserve of offshore and onshore gas, experts said, adding that the country is also estimated to have 3.2 billion barrels of recoverable crude oil reserve.

Statistics revealed that foreign investment in Myanmar's oil and gas sector had reached 3.243 billion dollars in 85 projects as of the end of 2007 since the country opened to such investment in late 1988, standing the second in the country's foreign investment sectorally after electric power.

In 2007, foreign investment in the oil and gas sector more than tripled to 474.3 million US dollars compared with 2006, accounting for 90 per cent of the total during the year which stood 504.8 million, according to the Ministry of National Planning and Economic Development.

More statistics show that natural gas topped Myanmar's exports in 2007-08 with 2.594 billion dollars, up 27.7 per cent from 2006-07's 2.03 billion dollars, representing 42.9 per cent of the total exports during the year.

Originally published by Xinhua news agency, Beijing, in English 0517 9 Jul 08.

(c) 2008 BBC Monitoring Asia Pacific. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.