Woodside Petroleum to Focus on Oil and Gas Exploration in Myanmar

Chief Executive Peter Coleman of Woodside Petroleum has decided not to pursue any further oil and gas investment in East Africa saying that the company will concentrate more on being an early mover in less expensive frontier countries like Myanmar.

In the past month, the Perth-based firm said that it will perform oil and gas exploration in Myanmar together with Daewoo of South Korea. That made the company one of the first foreign investors in Myanmar since it started to open up, following 50 years of military rule.

In a recent conference in Perth, the Chief Executive said that East Africa, where many huge discoveries have been found in the last couple of years, was becoming too costly for oil and gas exploration.

He admitted that his company was watching the region closely, specifically Tanzania and Mozambique, but only as a possible competitor for Australian LNG exports.

Since 2010, recoverable gas reserves amounting to around 100 trillion cubic feet have been found in Tanzania and Mozambique, and there are LNG export plans of about 36 million tons annually, an amount greater than the 25 million tons that are presently being exported by Australia.

The focus of the group was to find high-value deals before others would, according to Coleman.

The Chief Executive is aiming to widen its scope beyond Australia, a huge difference from his predecessor Don Voelte’s policy.

In the past month, Woodside passed on a bid to purchase a 30 percent share of a huge natural gas field off the coast of Israel. Moreover, the firm is bidding for a gas block located in Cyprus’ offshore.

The company’s shift towards oil exploration abroad has been forced primarily by the expensive costs and lengthy timelines entailed in pursuing other projects in Australia.

Myanmar is considered an ideal opportunity for investment by Woodside since the nation boasted of high quality hydrocarbons and has a bipartisan policy that aims to open up its oil and gas industry.

Moreover, the chief executive said that he is looking at possible deals on oil exploration in Papua New Guinea and other Asian countries.

Regarding the Gulf of Mexico, the company had begun oil drilling on its first well since the lifting of the drilling moratorium after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

By: Chris Termeer