Sep 3, 2012

Total Gets New Myanmar Drilling Rights

French oil major Total SA (TOT) said Monday it has received fresh oil and gas drilling rights in Myanmar, its latest investment in the country since sanctions were eased.

Total, which had set up in Myanmar before sanctions took effect and faced years of criticism from human rights groups for maintaining a presence in the country, will acquire a 40% stake from Thailand's state-owned oil firm PTT in its licence area in the Martaban basin. The two firms are already partners in the Yadana offshore gas project.

Total didn't disclose how much it paid for the share of the rights.

"With this acquisition, Total will bring its well recognised deep offshore expertise and its world-wide proven technology to contribute to exploration activities in Myanmar and potentially develop the country's hydrocarbon resources," said Total's head of exploration and production, Yves-Louis Darricarrere.

"By doing so, Total will continue to support the country's economic opening and growth," he added.

Foreign interest in Myanmar's untapped oil and gas wealth has been piqued as the former British colony begins to emerge from nearly 50 years of isolation and military rule.
Since Myanmar's harsh military regime voluntarily stepped down last year, a new government led by former soldier Thein Sein has freed political prisoners, loosened reins on the Internet, and aggressively courted foreign investors.

Although Total's presence in Myanmar was criticized by human rights activists who accused Total of enriching the junta, opposition icon and Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has since described Total as a "responsible investor."

Total and U.s. oil giant Chevron Corp. (CVX) are the only two major Western oil companies operating in Myanmar. The French company has defended its presence in the country, arguing that its investments have helped the impoverished nation and aided Myanmar's social and political development.

The first exploration wells in the block are expected to be drilled in the second half of next year, said Total.

Source: Fox Business