MIC approves more firms for onshore oil and gas exploration

The Myanmar Investment Commission has given approval to more than 15 new oil and gas companiesto invest in onshore blocks in Myanmar since July. All have signed production-sharing contractswith the government.

The firms include foreign and local companies, and the exploration blocks are located in six states and regions: Mon, Kayin, Taninthayi, Bago, Sagaing and Magway.

Five of the firms are from Myanmar: Apex Geo Services Co Ltd,Machinery and Solutions Co Ltd,Parami Energy Development CoLtd, Precious Stone Mining CoLtdandYoung Investment Group Co Ltd.

Three of the foreign companies are registered in Singapore: UNOG Pte,Petroleum Exploration (Myanmar Block O) Pte Ltd,Petroleum Exploration (Myanmar Block J) PteLtd and IGE Pte Ltd.

The others are Russian major Bashneft International BV, Sun Apex Holding Ltd, which is registered in the British Virgin Islands,India’s ONGC Videsh Limited, Brunei National Petroleum CoSdn Bhd, Canada’s Pacific Hunt Energy Corp and Luxembourg-based CAOG SARLand Petronas Carigali Myanmar Inc, which is registered in Hong Kong.

Environmental advocacy group Global Witness has raised questions about the ownership of the companies awarded exploration blocks in Myanmar. “The majority of companies recently awarded oil and gas blocks in Myanmar have failed to answer questions over who really owns them,” it said in June.

“Myanmar’s substantial oil and gas wealth is considered critical to its economic development.

Widespread secrecy surrounding company ownership raises risks that revenues could be lost to the corruption that has long plagued the country’s natural resource sector. Anonymous or secret company ownership structures are routinely used across the world to hide illicit activities from public scrutiny and law enforcement,” it said.

Cumulative approved foreign investment in Myanmar’s oil and gas sector hit US$14 billion as of June. No foreign oil and gas business were given approval by the MIC last year, but this year they received exploration licences under production-sharing contract.

The major gas projects in Myanmar are the Yetagun, Yadana, Zawtika and Shwe projects. Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise has a stake in each project, ranging from as low as 15 per cent to 20.45 per cent in the Yetagun project.

Myanmar has earned more than $10 billion from gas exports during the three years of the quasi-civilian government, according to the Ministry of National Planning and Economic Development.


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