Govern­ment to re­view ar­ti­sanal oil wells

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - HTOO THANT thanhtoo@mm­times.com CHAN MYA HTWE chan­myahtwe@mm­times.com

The Min­istry of Elec­tric­ity and En­ergy says it has launched a re­view of small-scale op­er­a­tions and will in­tro­duce a sys­tem of li­cenc­ing for hand-gouge wells in or­der to for­malise the un­reg­u­lated in­dus­try and im­prove safety and en­vi­ron­men­tal stan­dards.

IN a bid to for­malise the murky in­dus­try of ar­ti­sanal oil drilling, the govern­ment has ini­ti­ated a re­view of smallscale op­er­a­tors and will in­tro­duce a sys­tem of li­cens­ing that it says will clean up the poorly reg­u­lated sec­tor.

Speak­ing at a press con­fer­ence on Septem­ber 9, Daw Ni­lar Oo, deputy di­rec­tor at Myanma Petro­chem­i­cal En­ter­prise, said the govern­ment needed to in­tro­duce tighter safety and en­vi­ron­men­tal stan­dards to the hand-gouged oil busi­ness.

“The pur­pose of is­su­ing li­cences is so that th­ese peo­ple can do their work without dam­ag­ing the en­vi­ron­ment and without start­ing fires, and we are also aim­ing to de­velop the ar­eas where this is oc­cur­ring,” she said.

Hand-gouge wells are wide­spread in Sa­gaing, Aya­yarwady and Yan­gon re­gions, while the govern­ment will also is­sue li­censes for Magwe Re­gion, ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cials.

“At present, we are just do­ing field­work and study­ing the is­sue. For the hand-gouge wells that are not in ac­cor­dance with our ex­pec­ta­tions, we will is­sue a tem­po­rary li­cence af­ter de­mand­ing that they make the right ad­just­ments,” Daw Ni­lar Oo said.

The Min­istry of Elec­tric­ity and En­ergy will re­quest a list of ar­ti­sanal oil drillers, many of which are in­di­vid­u­als or small groups, from re­gional gov­ern­ments. The list is to be com­pleted by Septem­ber 25, while lo­cal gov­ern­ments will then be tasked with dis­sem­i­nat­ing in­for­ma­tion re­lated to the new liceneces by Oc­to­ber 25. The govern­ment plans to is­sue tem­po­rary li­cences to those who meet the min­i­mum stan­dards, while those seek­ing a longer-term li­cence will need to ap­ply.

“At present, we are do­ing field­work and study­ing the sit­u­a­tion. For the hand-gouge well busi­nesses that do not meet the norms re­quired, we will is­sue tem­po­rary li­cences for them only af­ter de­mand­ing they make ad­just­ments,” Daw Ni­lar Oo said.

The new govern­ment is also seek­ing to make amend­ments to a bill passed by the pre­vi­ous govern­ment last year, aim­ing to make the re­quire­ments for the in­dus­try more prac­ti­cal, of­fi­cials said on Septem­ber 9.

Mean­while, Myanma Oil and Gas En­ter­prise con­firmed last week that ma­jor in­ter­na­tional oil com­pa­nies that re­ceived per­mits for ex­plo­ration in 2013 and 2014 were still in the early stages of re­search, with many in the process of work­ing the en­vi­ron­men­tal assess­ments.

“The pre­vi­ous com­pa­nies that were is­sued per­mits are only just at a start­ing point and they are just mea­sur­ing po­ten­tial, al­though some have not yet even started do­ing this yet,” said U Than Htun, an ad­viser to Myanma Oil and Gas En­ter­prise. “None of the 2014 con­tract firms has started drilling yet. They are still in the process of get­ting their EIAs [En­vi­ron­men­tal Im­pact Assess­ments].”

A to­tal of 38 blocks – 20 off-shore and 18 on-shore – were awarded to com­pa­nies dur­ing in­ter­na­tional bid­ding rounds con­ducted in 2013 and 2014, U Than Htun said. Many of th­ese were awarded to in­ter­na­tional firms and their lo­cal part­ners, such as oil and gas giants Aus­tralia’s Wood­side En­ergy (Myan­mar), Bri­tish Shell Myan­mar En­ergy and Ja­pan’s MOECO Oil and Gas Asia, he added.

They will ne­go­ti­ate pro­duc­tion­shar­ing con­tracts with the sta­te­owned Myanma Oil and Gas En­ter­prise. But it will be some time be­fore ex­trac­tion will be­gin, said U Than Htun, par­tic­u­larly given the de­cline in global oil prices, which has seen many in the in­dus­try less will­ing to in­vest.

‘We will is­sue a tem­po­rary li­cence af­ter de­mand­ing that they make the right ad­just­ments.’ Daw Ni­lar Oo Myanma Petro­chem­i­cal En­ter­prise

Photo: Aung Htay Hlaing

A child sqeezes oil out of a rag at an ar­ti­sanal oil field in Minhla town­ship, Magwe Re­gion.

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