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More gas discovered in impoverished Myanmar

Thailand's state oil firm, has discovered more potentially rich offshore gas deposits in the southwestern Gulf of Martaban.

india Updated: Dec 31, 2006 14:22 IST

Impoverished Myanmar, working with Thailand's state oil firm, has discovered more potentially rich offshore gas deposits in the southwestern Gulf of Martaban, official media reported on Sunday.

The New Light of Myanmar newspaper said that Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise and Thailand's PTT Exploration and Production (PTTEP) had discovered an estimated 2.5 trillion cubic feet (75 billion square metres) of natural gas in block M-9.

Myanmar, one of the world's poorest countries and under US and European economic sanctions over human rights abuses and suppression of democracy, is increasingly reliant on revenue from its oil and gas deposits.

Energy minister Lun Thi called for the speedy launch of commercial production of the gas, the New Light of Myanmar reported, adding that plans were underway to drill six more wells in block M-9 in 2007.

With the new discovery, block M-9 is estimated to contain 8.0 trillion cubic feet of gas, the newspaper said.

Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise and PTTEP, Thailand's largest exploration firm, began drilling in early December in block M-9 in the Gulf of Martaban, which opens out into the Andaman Sea.

Despite international condemnation and growing frustration at Myanmar's military regime, its neighbors have been jostling to take advantage of the country's abundant natural resources.

Natural gas from Myanmar currently accounts for some 20 percent of Thailand's supply.

That gas comes mainly from the Yetagun field — operated by Malaysia's Petronas, Japan's Nippon Oil and PTTEP — and the Yadana field run by France's Total, US firm Unocal and PTTEP. Both fields are in the Gulf of Martaban.

Myanmar's oil and gas production has become the largest source of foreign currency earning, according to official figures.