UPDATE 1-Thai PTTEP wins bid for 2 Myanmar oil blocks-minister

Wed Dec 21, 2011 2:37am EST

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By Pracha Hariraksapitak

BANGKOK, Dec 21 (Reuters) - Thailand's top oil and gas explorer, PTT Exploration and Production Pcl (PTTEP), has won bids for two onshore petroleum blocks in Myanmar, Thai Energy Minister Pichai Naripthanphan said on Wednesday.

"We won two, that's for sure," Pichai told reporters after a visit to Myanmar, adding the blocks were close to the capital, Naypyitaw.

Pichai returned to Thailand late on Tuesday after accompanying Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to the former Burma, which is opening up under a nominally civilian government after years of isolation.

PTTEP, which ranks among Asia's top 10 explorers and competes with big Chinese oil firms such as CNOOC and Sinopec, had expressed interest in bidding for up to three blocks.

"We were told about this by Energy Minister U Than Htay, but in terms of further details, we will have to wait for an official announcement from the authority over there later."

Foreign firms that succeed in bids to develop 18 new onshore oil and gas blocks will be required to set up joint ventures with local companies, a Myanmar Energy Ministry official said in August.

During a Dec. 18-20 trip to the former British colony, Pichai discussed other potential oil deals, including the PTT group's interest in investing in the offshore MD7 and MD8 fields.

Thailand and Myanmar have tentatively agreed to invest in a gas separation plant in Myanmar over the long term, he said.

International investment in Myanmar has been limited until now because of sanctions imposed for human rights abuses under the former military regime, but hopes of economic reform and increased foreign investment are running high after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's recent visit.

China, Thailand, India and Singapore are among the biggest investors there at the moment.

PTTEP, a flagship in the upstream petroleum exploration business of PTT, has about 40 oil and gas exploration and development projects. It has four projects in Myanmar and is a minority partner in the Yetagun and Yadana gas developments.

Myanmar Energy Minister Than Htay is scheduled to visist Thailand from Feb. 7-9, Pichai said, adding Thai ministers would also travel to Dawei in Myanmar next month to discuss invesment matters.

Thai companies are leading a huge project in Dawei in Myanmar's south to build a port and an economic zone with power plants and related infrastructure. (Writing by Ploy Ten Kate; Editing by Alan Raybould)

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