March 29, 2014 6:16 am JST

Mitsui unit, Shell win rights to natural gas blocks off Myanmar

MOTOKAZU MATSUI, Nikkei staff writer

YANGON -- Mitsui Oil Exploration and Royal Dutch Shell have obtained rights to explore for natural gas off the coast of Myanmar, the country's Ministry of Energy said Friday.

     The Mitsui & Co. unit and the Anglo-Dutch company were granted joint access to three deep-water blocks via auction.

     Currently, South Korea's Daewoo Group and Malaysia's Petronas are exploring shallow waters. But deep-water reserves have been untouched due to the advanced technology required to explore them.

     This time around, Myanmar offered rights to 20 offshore blocks in the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea, 10 of which are in deep water. More than 60 firms showed interest by the time the auction closed last fall.

     French company Total, Chevron from the U.S., the Oil India group and nine other global resource giants won exploration rights on other blocks.

     Myanmar had 200 billion cu. meters of confirmed natural gas reserves at the end of 2012.