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Thailand's PTTEP to invest 1 billion dollars


November 14, 2007

Thailand-Myanmar : Investment
Thailand's PTTEP to invest 1 billion dollars in Myanmar gas project

Thailand's largest oil exploration firm, PTT Exploration and Production (PTTEP), said Tuesday it will invest at least 1 billion US dollars over the next five years in developing an offshore gas project in Myanmar.

This year PTTEP began exploring the M-9 block in the Gulf of Martaban off southern Myanmar, working with Myanmar's top state-run oil enterprise, Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise.

PTTEP plans to drill more exploration wells and start installing production equipment in 2008, said PTTEP spokesman Sitthichai Jayant.

'Our activities in the M-9 project so far have confirmed that the gas reserve of this block is promising,' Sitthichai said.

'PTTEP has already laid down a development plan for M-9 which calls for an investment of at least 1 billion dollars, starting next year onward. It usually takes five years for developing a gas project until it starts production.'

The M-9 project is not included in PTTEP's investment plans for 2007-2011, which require 8.3 billion dollars, Sitthichai said.

The block has been the focus of PTTEP's offshore work in the Gulf of Martaban.

Thailand imports about 20 percent of its gas from Myanmar and is vying for a bigger share of Myanmar's natural resources.

State media in Myanmar previously estimated the M-9 block contains 8.0 trillion cubic feet of gas.

PTTEP company is aiming to start initial production by 2011 for both domestic use and export, Sitthichai said.

PTTEP owns all of the M-9 block but Sitthichai said it is looking for investment partners.

'We have been in talks with a state-owned oil company from Oman [who] are interested to co-invest in the project. We are likely to give them a minority stake of less than 10 percent,' Sitthichai said.

Myanmar, one of the world's poorest nations, is subject to US and European economic sanctions imposed over the ruling military junta's human rights abuses and its recent crackdown on pro-democracy protests.

But the impact of the sanctions has been weakened by energy-hungry neighbors such as China, India and Thailand spending billions of dollars for a share of Myanmar's vast energy resources.

According to 2006 official figures, 13 foreign oil companies are working on 33 projects in Myanmar.

Courtesy Forbes

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