An international petroleum company has struck a record deposit of natural gas off the coast of Burma’s southern Irrawaddy Division.
The discovery is the largest gas reserve in the history of offshore exploration in Burma, according to Naypyidaw.
Minerals giant Woodside announced the find to the Australian Stock Exchange with a statement on Monday. It comes after the firm was awarded an offshore exploratory concessions by the Burmese government.
Woodside has permits to explore six blocks off Burma’s west coast, totalling some 46,000 kilometres squared and representing 20 percent of the Australian firm’s global exploration acreage.
Discovered in late November, and fully evaluated one month later, the well was tapped at a total depth of 5,306 metres under the sea.
In a press release, Woodside stated that the find consisted of 15 metres of net gas pay – the length of rock that could be tapped to deliver profitable hydrocarbons.
However Woodside told DVB on Tuesday that it was too early to discuss when the gas would begin to be exploited.
“This discovery is an encouraging outcome for future exploration and appraisal activity in the area,” said Woodside CEO Peter Coleman.
Woodside has a 40 percent stake in A-6, the block in which the discovery was made. Sharing in any potential profit will be Total E&P Myanmar, who hold a 40 percent non-operating interest, as well as Burmese-owned MPRL E&P, which maintains a 20 percent operating stake.
Speaking to DVB ahead of the granting of several concessions to Woodside, Dr Nigel Finch, an Associate Professor at the University of Sydney Business School with a particular focus on extractive industries in Southeast Asia, described Woodside as a “experienced and credible” and “world class” firm.
However the Burmese government, which granted Woodside permission to search the Rakhine [Arakan] Basin, has erred on the matter.
On Monday Naypyidaw expressed its concern for the environmental impact that the plumbing of Burma’s vast natural gas resources may hold. The discovery was made 30 kilometres from Ngwe Saung beach, a popular tourist destination close to the town of Pathein, known for its natural beauty.
Early calculations suggest that the natural gas reserve found in A-6 stems from the Shwe natural gas reserve, found off the coast of Arakan State. The gas field has been subject to much controversy, having been plumbed to provide 12 billion cubic metres (420 billion cubic feet) a year of gas to China, through a pipeline spanning Burma from Arakan State through Shan State and into China’s Yunnan Province.