Ministry scrambles after leaking offshore bidding news

The Ministry of Energy called an emergency meeting yesterday after an unnamed official told state newspaper Myanma Alinn that bidding rounds for oil and gas blocks would be announced next year.

“In 2016, we will announce bidding rounds for 26 oil and gas blocks including onshore and offshore. The future bidding rounds are aiming to supply sufficient energy for domestic use,” reported Myanma Alinn on 2 June, citing an MOGE official.

The state-owned enterprise will open a bidding round for 13 onshore blocks and another for 13 offshore blocks including nine deepwater blocks, according to the report.

The Ministry of Energy in Nay Pyi Taw was alerted to the report, following a series of enquiries, and the minister called an urgent meeting, according to a ministry official.

“This morning, we were called to an urgent meeting by the minister, where we were told not to speak to the media directly. Future information will only come through the information committee and the ministry’s regular press conferences in Nay Pyi Taw,” the official told The Myanmar Times yesterday.

The ministry’s information committee denied the state media’s report. “This report is not relevant. We are trying to find out which official said that,” said U Htay Aung, the committee’s secretary.

Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE) said last month that it would not launch any more bidding until 2016, but did not confirm any details about when the next round would take place or how many blocks would be offered. However, U Myo Myint Oo, managing director of Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE), said to The Myanmar Times yesterday, “I don’t want comment on whether this news is true or false, but most of the information mentioned in the report is accurate.”

“It is still early to discuss this issue. We are going to hold a press conference about it next week, where we will give you more detailed information about the oil and gas business,” he said.

MOGE has conducted three international bidding rounds for a number of onshore and offshore blocks since the nominally civilian government took office in 2011. The first onshore bidding round for 18 blocks was launched in 2011 and nine blocks were awarded to international companies.

In 2013, the second onshore bidding round for 18 blocks and the first offshore round for 30 blocks were launched. Of these, a total of 16 onshore and 20 offshore blocks were awarded.

Since then, MOGE has been signing production sharing contracts (PSCs) for awarded blocks with the winning international companies and their local partners. Only a few PSCs remain to be signed, ending a year-long process.

Myanmar has a total of 104 oil and gas blocks including 53 onshore and 51 offshore blocks. At present, 16 onshore and 19 offshore blocks are in operation, according to a Ministry of Energy source.

Total current production is 8000 barrels of petroleum and 55 million cubic feet per day of natural gas from the onshore fields, and 7000 barrels of condensate and around 2 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas from Myanmar’s offshore fields, said a geologist from the Ministry of Energy.

Foreign capital pledged to Myanmar’s oil and gas sector is nearly US$17 billion, and $2.6 billion had already been invested during fiscal year 2015 by the end of January, according to statistics from the Myanmar Investment Commission.

Source: Myanmar Times

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