Myanmar strikes gas 70-km from Indian border

Vol 7, PW 25 (10 Mar 04) People & Policy

Forget Bangladesh, Myanmar looks set to emerge as a significant source of natural gas for energy-hungry India.

On 19th February, state-owned Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE) struck gas in an exploration well in the Mawlaik region of Sagaing division bordering India's northeastern states of Nagaland and Manipur. Myanmars junior energy minister Than Htay made a public announcement of the discovery at a government function to inaugurate a 30-km stretch of road in the mountainous and thickly forested Sagaing division on 24th February.

Myanmar officials tell PETROWACH that of the two wells drilled by operator MOGE in block Indaw-1 (near Mawlaik town), one yielded only salty water. The other struck gas at 6,500 metres.

Estimates are that this well could produce gas at the rate of 4.32m cubic feet per day. Plans are to drill a third well in the vicinity to a target depth of about 6,500 metres.

"Drilling for the third well has already crossed the 1,000-metre depth and we are very encouraged by the prospects," said Than Htay. MOGE plans to drill three more wells on Indaw-1 by the end of 2005.

Htay tells this report that Indaw-1 is just 70-km from the Indian border but exploration activity is hampered by lack of roads and separatist insurgency across the porous border in this remote and geographically difficult terrain. If India makes up its mind, gas can be easily exported from Indaw-1.

Htay believes Indaw-1 gas could be supplied via a feeder pipeline to the main pipeline that will be laid to carry gas to India from the offshore Block A-1 where operator Daewoo struck gas in January this year. "If India imports natural gas from us by building a pipeline from the Arakans offshore through Mizoram, we can easily set up a feeder pipeline to send gas from the Indaw structure to the main pipeline.

The potential is immense," he said. In February, Htay accompanied Burmese prime minister and military intelligence chief Lt-General Khin Nyunt to Mawlaik town to inspect the MOGE exploration site.

MOGE began drilling here in May 2001.