Burma has signed nine oil and gas exploration deals with foreign companies since March as part of its push to jump-start the economy, according to domestic media.
State-owned Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise said the deals allow companies in Asia and Europe to explore for oil and natural gas, the Myanmar Ahlin newspaper reported this week.
“It was the first time in the history of Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise to sign nine agreements within such a short period,” the article said.
It provided no financial details, but said Burmese companies are involved in all nine deals.
The foreign firms are EPI Holdings of Hong Kong, Geopetro International Holding of Switzerland, Petronas of Malaysia, Jubilant Energy of India, PTTEP of Thailand, Istech Energy of Indonesia and CIS Nobel Oil of Russia.
The ministry said 10 foreign companies were exploring for oil at 24 offshore energy fields, while eight overseas firms were exploring 20 inland fields.
The article said many foreign companies are expressing interest in exploring for oil and natural gas in other inland and offshore fields.
Burmese President Thein Sein said in a televised speech on Tuesday that economic development is the centerpiece of the country’s “second wave”of reforms to be initiated in the July session of the Parliament.
On Thursday, Mizzima reported that Dr. Kan Zaw, the deputy minister for Ministry of National Planning & Economic Development, said western firms would become the No. 1 investors in Burma in the coming years, replacing China and Thailand, currently the top investors, who both have large stakes in the oil and gas sectors.
Total foreign investment in Burma reached US$ 40.699 billion in 458 projects as of March 2012, since the country opened to foreign investments in late 1988, according to official figures. “Until 2012, China stands as the top investor in Myanmar with about $30 billion in investments,” Kan Zaw said. Other top countries are Hong Kong and South Korea.
“In the coming years, Singapore is expected to be another large investors,” he said.
The minister said the government’s new investment law would put Burma in line with international standards and make it more competitive with other countries in the region.
“The new investment law will allow foreign companies do business in Myanmar for 70 years in total, with extensions step by step on investment permits,” he said.
He quoted a Burmese saying, “The more pleasant the house, the more guests will come.”
Recently, Burma, in response to a shortage of electricity, signed memorandums of understanding to build power plants involving companies in the United States, South Korea and Japan.