Myanmar auctions offshore oil and gas exploration blocks
Myanmar's Government has commenced an auction of 30 offshore oil and gas exploration blocks, which is anticipated to attract huge interest from foreign multinational companies.
Successful bidders will be granted full rights to up to three of the 19 deepwater blocks on offer.
Energy firms must submit their bids by the 14 June, reported the AFP.
Previously, companies were required to explore onshore blocks in partnership with state oil companies, but bidders are now expected to take full control for deepwater exploration, owing to the high cost and technical skills required for such programmes.
The ministry did say, however, that bidders will have to sign a production sharing contract with the state-owned Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE).
An MOGE official was quoted by AFP as saying that: "A deepwater block requires a lot of money, advanced technical skills and involves a high level of risk."
Up until two years ago, Myanmar was under international sanctions because of its military junta rule.
After the sanctions were relaxed, in January 2013, Myanmar opened up 18 onshore blocks for bids, in an effort to attract Western oil and gas companies to enter the country's energy sector.
Malaysia's Petroliam Nasional has been producing natural gas from a shallow-water development since 2000, while France's Total SA operates another block.
US-based Chevron, South Korea's Daewoo International and Thailand's PTT Exploration & Production are expected to start production at offshore wells, which are estimated to increase the country's daily gas output to 2.2 billion cubic feet by 2015, from its existing 1.4 billion.
Image: Earlier in January 2013, Myanmar opened up 18 onshore blocks for bids. Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos / num_shyman.