With the development in oil and natural gas sector, Myanmar has attracted foreign involvement in oil and gas exploration in the country from as many as six countries' oil companies in a single year of 2006 which represent Thailand, Malaysia, Russia, Australia, India and Singapore.
The involvement of Thailand's PTTEP in two more blocks -- M-7 and M-9 in the Mottama offshore areas early this year under contract has brought the total number of blocks which the Thai company involved to five with other blocks known as M-3, M-4 and M- 11.
Meanwhile, the PTTEP announced in August the discovery of a new gas source at the Zatila-1 well in the Mottama offshore block M-9 with a significant amount being estimated.
Besides, Malaysian company, the Petronas, also planned oil and gas exploration at three more available blocks M-16, M-17 and M-18 off Myanmar's southern Tanintharyi coast in addition to M-15.
This year was signified by the involvement for the first time of an oil company from Russia in cooperation with Myanmar and India to explore oil and natural gas at a block lying off the Mottama offshore area. Under a production sharing contract initiated in September by the JSC Zarubezhneft Itera Oil and Gas Company of Russia, the Sun Group of India and the state-run Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE), the three companies will carry out the undertaking at block M-8 in the offshore area.
Moreover, an Australian company also reached a contract in November with the MOGE to conduct oil and gas exploration and production in the country's Yetagun gas field (east block) off the southern Tanintharyi coast.
With gas reserve estimated at 3.946 trillion cubic feet (TCF) or 111.738 billion cubic-meters (BCM) and a sale reserve of 2.437 TCF, the Yetagun gas field project has already involved PTTEP ( Thailand), Petronas (Malaysia), Nippon (Japan) and MOGE (Myanmar), of which the Petronas possesses the largest share with 56.66 percent, while Myanmar's state-run Oil and Gas Enterprise 15 percent, PTTEP of Thailand and Nippon of Japan 14.17 percent each.
The PTTEP, which has been the buyer of the Yetagun gas, announced this year that it will increase buying of gas from the field up to over 500 million cubic-feet (MCF) or 14.15 million cubic-meters (MCM) per day from 400 MCF per day last year and from 200 MCF per day in 2000 when it first started to import the gas which was transmitted through a 24-inch pipe extending as 273 km.
In the latest development, The GAIL of India and the Silver Wave Energy of Singapore signed a production sharing contract with Myanmar this month to explore oil and natural gas at Block A-7 in offshore area of Myanmar's western Rakhine state.
There has been natural gas deposits found earlier at Block A-1 (Shwe field and Shwephyu field) and Block A-3 (Mya field) in the same offshore area in January 2004 and April 2005 respectively, explored by another consortium of oil companies led by South Korea 's Daewoo International Corporation with 60 percent-stake. Other companies go to South Korea Gas Corporation (10 percent), ONGC Videsh Ltd of India (20 percent) and GAIL (10 percent).
The Shwe field holds a gas reserve of 4 to 6 TCF (113.2 to 170 BCM), while the Shwephyu 5 TCF and the Mya 2 TCF with a combined proven reserve of 5.7 to 10 TCF of gas being estimated by experts.
Myanmar is planning to sell gas produced from the two biggest blocks A-1 and A-3 to neighboring countries such as India, China and Thailand as well as South Korea. However, the final decision to which country the gas will be sold is being postponed up to early next year, according to a latest official sources.
Meanwhile, local media reports said Myanmar is deliberating to reopen its onshore oil blocks to foreign companies for exploration and six such blocks in Kachin state's upper Chindwin River region and Hukaung Valley, and the Ayeyawaddy delta region are likely to be granted for foreign involvement.
The authorities in March 2005 announced that it would not grant onshore oil exploration by new foreign oil companies but retained them to be operated by the MOGE.
Myanmar has abundance of natural gas resources in the offshore areas. With three main large offshore oil and gas fields and 19 onshore ones, Myanmar has proven recoverable reserve of 18.012 TCF or 510 billion cubic-meters (BCM) out of 89.722 TCF or 2.54 trillion cubic-meters (TCM)'s estimated reserve of offshore and onshore gas, experts said.
The country is also estimated to have 3.2 billion barrels of recoverable crude oil reserve, official statistics indicate.
The Myanmar figures also show that in the fiscal year 2005-06 which ended in March, the country produced 7.962 million barrels of crude oil and 11.45 BCM of gas. Gas export during the year went to 9.138 BCM, earning over 1 billion U.S. dollars.
Available statistics reveal that such investment in Myanmar's oil and gas sector had reached 2.635 billion dollars as of March, the end of the fiscal year 2005-06, since the country opened to foreign investment in late 1988, dominating the country's foreign investment sectorally.
With increased foreign engagement in the oil and gas sector, it is predicted that the sector will help raise the country's gross domestic product in the development of national economy.