New prospects in Myanmar’s oil and gas blocks

Next month, 15 offshore blocks and 18 onshore blocks will be put up for tender. It is Myanmar’s second international bidding and local and foreign oil firms are interested in participating.

But how much oil and gas is present? Are more discoveries possible? Which blocks have potential? Industry watchers may wish to know.

Among the 14 onshore basins of Myanmar, the main oil production areas are Chindwin basin, Central Myanmar basin, Pyay basin and Delta basin.

While it is known that the Rakhine coast is resource-rich, and that more attempts will also be made to produce oil from the sedimentary basins, exploration activities cannot be carried out due to difficulties such as transport.

As such, oil companies that are financially and technically strong must be allowed to invest and explore in these areas to encourage discoveries of new oil fields.

In 1990-91, foreign firms conducted surveys and 2D seismic work at the onshore blocks and drilled some exploratory wells. They are: (Amoco)PSC-B, (Yukaung)PSC-C, (Idemitsu)PSC-D, (Petro Canada)PSC-E, (Unocal)PSC-F , (Shell)PSC-G, (BHP) PSC-H, (Croft) PSC-I, (Southern Pacific) PSC-J, and (OPIC) PSC-L.

After 2013, areas where exploration work was conducted include PTTEP (PSC-G, EP-2,MOGE-3), Petronas (RSF-2,3, IOR-5,7), Eni(PSC-K, RSF-5), Asia Orient (PSC-E), Parami (PSC-I), NPCC (PSC-F), Geopetrol (RSF-9),SNOG(PSC-R),Istech (EP-5), ONGC (PSC-B2, EP-3), Pacific Hunt(PSC-C1, PSC-L), Petro-Brunei (EP-1), Bashneft (EP-4), Nobel Oil( PSC-A,B1), and CAOG (MOGE-5) and some are still ongoing.

As exploration techniques have improved since then, it is expected that more onshore oil and gas fields will to be uncovered using 3D seismic information.

Offshore potential

Studies need to be conducted on the sedimentation system, the possible situation of oil formation and whether there are hidden deposits which are needed to form an oil and gas deposit.

According to the study on Myanmar’s offshore sector, thick sediment can be found, north and east of the coast of Rakhine. At the near-shore shallow water blocks, deposits where oil and gas may be hidden are seen and the evidence of this is strong. Oil and gas are being explored for at the Miocene and Pliocene formations.

According to the geographical situation, the seabed more than 30 miles from the Rakhine coast has obviously changed. The slopes have become steeper and are occurring in deepwater. This situation occurred as the two continents of earth crashed into each other about 45 million years ago.

The lower part of ocean floor is about 3000 meters deep. Sediment is densely settled at on the subsea bed, becoming reservoirs where gas is trapped, especially in the sedimentary rocks on the steep slopes. Some examples include the Shwe Gas reservoir and Shwe Yee Htun Gas reservoir in blocks AD-7 and AD1.

Potential oil and gas prospects are found in other blocks too. However, this needs to be confirmed by drilling. It can be said that the Rakhine Offshore Region is a virgin area with a huge potential for resources discovery.

Moattama, Tanintharyi Offshore Regions

Deposits from Ayeyarwaddy, Sittaung and Thanlwin rivers have accumulated into thick deposits in the Mottama and Tanintharyi Offshore Depression. The deepest parts of the sea floor can range from 2,500 m to 3,000 m and the thickness of the deposits is up to 2,000 m. In that deposit, Miocene and Pliocene-age sediments where natural and oil deposits lay are found.

Oil and natural gas deposits in Yadana (Miocene Limestone), Yetagun (Miocene Sandstone), Zawtika (Pliocene Sandstone) and Aungsinkha (Miocene Limestone) have already been discovered. These are in shallow waters and no one has discovered anything about the potential in the deep water offshore area. As there are more deposits in deeper water, it is safe to expect that there would be oil and natural gas deposits in these sandstone reservoirs. Investors are only hindered by the huge costs of exploring and extracting in offshore areas.

The existence of Source Rock, Reservoir Rock, Cap Rock and Migration in the large offshore sedimentary basins of Myanmar indicates a perfect condition to form the oil and gas deposits for commercial extraction.

More than 20 exploratory wells were drilled in offshore Rakhine. Measurements and results of these exploratory wells can reduce risks for exploration activities.

There are many potential resources in offshore blocks and it is reported that proven gas reserves of about 8 trillion cubic feet remain. If A-6, AD-7 and M-3 start producing, the gas reserves may be increased more. A solution that would benefit both sides needs to be sought in order to fulfill the country’s energy demand.

Therefore, the cooperation of oil companies in discovering existence of commercially viable oil in Rakhine offshore and Mottama offshore can produce better results and if existing platforms and pipelines are connected, production can start in a short time.

So, negotiations should be conducive to attracting oil companies which want to conduct deepwater operations in Myanmar. Oil companies with genuine interest in the business should be welcomed. For this reason, the prospect of the blocks must be presented to attract companies with the help of Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise.

Whatever it is, as natural gas exploration work involves considerable uncertainties, further investigations and exploration drilling will need to be carried out and inevitably involve some risks.

Source: Myanmar Times

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