| BANGKOK, March 6
BANGKOK, March 6 Myanmar will let foreign
companies bid for full control of new offshore oil and gas
blocks that could be offered in April, removing a requirement
that they take a local partner, a senior Energy Ministry
"Arrangements are under way to invite bidding for about two
dozen offshore blocks in April. The significance of this round
will be that investors won't have to enter mandatory joint
ventures with local companies," said the official, who declined
to be named as he was not authorised to speak to the media.
The ministry invited bidding for 18 onshore blocks in
"The closing date for that round is on March 16. After that
we plan to open another round for about 25 offshore blocks,
mostly deep-sea and some shallow, in April," the official said.
The bidders for the 18 onshore blocks are required to have
As a result of that requirement, about 100 local entities
rushed to register with the ministry with a view to entering
into a partnership with foreign companies.
"Only a few of these local companies have any experience in
the oil and gas industry. I think this requirement might have
made some foreign investors reluctant," the official said.
"Offshore blocks are more challenging and costly. In order
to make them more attractive, the requirement for mandatory
partnership with local companies will be dropped," he added.
He said international oil and gas giants such as Royal Dutch
Shell PLC, Chevron Corp, ConocoPhillips
and Exxon Mobil Corp were waiting to bid for the new
Official data shows Myanmar exported $3.50 billion worth of
gas, mainly to neighbouring Thailand, in the fiscal year to
March 2012, compared with $2.52 billion a year before.
Proceeds in the current fiscal year were $2.77 billion by
the end of December.
Chinese state media have said a pipeline taking gas from off
Rakhine State in Myanmar to China should be operational by the
end of May and that a parallel oil pipeline will start in 2014.