Europe oil firms to participate in Myanmar oil tender

Wed Jul 25, 2012 2:19am EDT
 
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By Randy Fabi

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - European oil firms will participate in Myanmar's first oil exploration tender since the easing of Western sanctions, but U.S. companies might wait for more concrete reforms, the head of a local oil firm said.

The tender will be the first opportunity in at least 15 years for U.S. oil firms to participate in Myanmar's energy sector after Washington relaxed sanctions this month to allow for new investment in the country, which is quickly emerging from nearly half a century of military rule.

Myanmar, one of the world's first oil producers, has opened up to the outside world with astonishing speed since a civilian government took office last year -- releasing hundreds of political prisoners, permitting greater media freedom, legalizing protests and undertaking peace talks with ethnic rebel groups.

"Europe are definitely interested and will participate in the next round. The United States is showing interest but I do not know what type of vehicle they will use to get in," Ken Tun, the chief executive of Myanmar's Parami Energy, said during a visit to Singapore.

Western oil firms were conspicuously absent from last year's energy tender, Myanmar's biggest, with only Switzerland's Geopetrol winning the rights to explore one onshore block out of 18 offered. Asian companies took the rest.

Myanmar is expected to offer six new onshore blocks in the 2012 tender and re-offer nine or 10 blocks from last year's offer, Tun said. The government has yet to confirm details.

"For the next round, I'm targeting two to three blocks. As a local operator, I can do that," said the 38-year-old executive.

Parami Energy, one of only a few privately-owned oil and gas firms in Myanmar, will team up with Vietnamese-Russian oil venture Vietsovpetro to bid for blocks.   Continued...