MELBOURNE, Feb 4 (Reuters) - Australia’s Woodside Petroleum said on Thursday its three-well drilling plan for Myanmar this year remains on schedule after a military coup and it is continuing work on the country’s first ultra deep-water gas development.
Woodside, Australia’s top independent gas producer, is working with France’s Total SA and Myanmar-based MPRL E&P to develop the A-6 project in waters more than 2,000 metres deep off Myanmar’s southwest coast. Woodside is also drilling off Myanmar’s northwest coast.
“Our current drilling campaign remains on schedule and those supporting the drilling campaign are safe and accounted for,” a Woodside spokeswoman said in emailed comments. “We continue to progress the A-6 Development activities as a priority.”
Access to airports and helicopters, which had been limited earlier in the week, has been reinstated, the company said.
Companies across the world with business interests in the Southeast Asian country have scrambled to assess the situation in Myanmar as the military coup sparked global outrage and the United States threatened to reimpose sanctions on the generals.
While analysts raised questions about investing in a country where the generals have seized power and detained its elected leader, Woodside said its aim was to be a “constructive foreign investor”.
“In the ongoing development of Myanmar, economic stability and energy supply can play an important role,” the spokeswoman said.
Woodside said it was monitoring guidance from the United Nations and the Australian government on economic engagement in Myanmar. It declined to comment on what it would do if sanctions were imposed.
Analysts have said investors may be wary of Woodside going ahead with work in Myanmar, where it has invested more than $400 million since 2014, amid the possibility of sanctions.
“We estimate that new upstream projects worth $2 billion up until 2030 are yet to take final investment decisions, including the A-6 project, which now risks further delay,” said Saloni Kapoor, a research associate with energy consultants Wood Mackenzie.
Thailand’s PTT Exploration and Production (PTTEP) , which operates the Zawtika gas field off Myanmar, is working on a $2 billion gas to power project that includes developing more gas, and a 600 megawatt gas-fired power plant.
PTTEP didn’t immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment on Thursday, but said earlier this week that Zawtika was operating as normal.
“Incremental phases at Zawtika will provide upside to Myanmar’s energy mix, but if A-6 does not progress as planned, an estimated 2 tcf (trillion cubic feet) of gas supply is threatened,” said Wood Mackenzie’s Kapoor.
The new gas will be needed to offset declining output from the country’s older fields. (Reporting by Sonali Paul; Additional reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng in Bangkok; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)
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