Myanmar worked in that area from before?
With Korean, Chinese and Indian companies in the field, Myanmar’s attempt to drill an exploratory oil and gas well within Bangladesh maritime boundary indicates that the country has been working on this plan for a long time.
The presence of drilling rig in the oil-gas exploration ship of Korean company Daewoo working for Myanmar in the disputed area is a proof that Myanmar might have physically worked in the area without drawing the notice of Bangladesh in the recent past.
To mobilise a rig is very costly and an oil company would do so only when it has previously done seismic survey and found strong chances of hitting oil and gas, geologists say.
This spot is located 55km southwest at 227 degrees from St Martin’s Island while 180 degrees from St Martins marks a southward straight line, which should be Bangladesh’s maritime boundary. The location is marked as deep-sea oil and gas exploration blocks 8-13 of Bangladesh.
But Myanmar claims the area to be part of its economic zone and marked the area as some of its own oil and gas exploration blocks.
In August last year, Daewoo declared that it discovered 7.7 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of gas in three offshore blocks close to Bangladesh, says AP.
According to Xinhua, Myanmar’s autocratic military regime highly depends on oil and gas exports to Thailand and China to earn foreign currency. Gas export in 2006-07 fetched Myanmar over $1 billion.
Almost all the offshore gas discoveries are close to Bangladesh maritime territory. With three main large offshore oil and gas fields and 19 onshore ones, Myanmar has proven recoverable reserve of 18.012 TCF out of probable reserve of 89.722 TCF offshore and onshore gas. The country is also estimated to have 3.2 billion barrels of recoverable crude oil reserve, according to official statistics.
Myanmar’s latest oil and gas explorations are being conducted by China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) of China, Daewoo and South Korea Gas Corporation, ONGC Videsh Ltd, Gas Authority of India Ltd (GAIL) and Essar of India under various Production Sharing Contracts (PSC). In the past, US company Unocal (now Chevron) discovered and developed a number of oil and gas fields.
CNPC signed the PSC with the Myanmar Ministry of Energy in January 2007 covering crude oil and natural gas exploration projects in three deep-sea blocks off western Myanmar, which is close to Bangladesh maritime border.
A consortium of Korean and Indian companies led by Daewoo owns stakes in blocks that include the Shwe, Shwephyu and Mya fields off western Myanmar, also close to Bangladesh territory. Daewoo has 60 percent stakes in the consortium, South Korea Gas Corporation has 10 percent, ONGC 20 percent and GAIL 10 percent.
The Shwe field holds a gas reserve of 4-6 TCF while Shwephyu 5 TCF and Mya 2 TCF with a combined reserve of 5.7-10 TCF estimated by experts.
In May this year, Daewoo and CNPC signed a deal for join exploration in Myanmar.
Statistics reveals that foreign investment in Myanmar’s oil and gas sector has reached $2.635 billion as of March since the country allowed foreign investment in late 1988.
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