Shell, BG Lead Myanmar Offshore Oil Exploration Awards

Royal Dutch Shell Plc and BG Group Plc led explorers with the most awards to search for oil and natural gas off Myanmar in the latest auction.

BG won four licenses with Australian partner Woodside Petroleum Ltd. equally split between shallow and deep waters, Myanmar’s Energy Ministry said today in a statement. Shell won three permits together with Japanese trading house Mitsui & Co.’s oil unit.

BG has a “strategy to focus on securing prospective frontier acreage and enter, on average, one new basin each year,” the Reading, England-based explorer said in a statement. It expects to start seismic studies as soon as this year.

Foreign companies from Coca-Cola Co. to MasterCard Inc. are returning to Myanmar after its transition to democracy in 2012 prompted the U.S. to ease sanctions. While the Southeast Asian nation exported its first barrel of oil in 1853, investment largely dried up during almost five decades of military rule.

“Shell is always looking for growth opportunities,” the Anglo-Dutch company said in a statement. “We look forward to helping Myanmar develop its energy resources to help fuel continued economic growth and progress.”

Total SA, Chevron Corp. and Eni SpA along with Roc Oil Co. and Ophir Energy Plc also won blocks in the auction, according to the ministry. Statoil ASA and ConocoPhillips jointly won one license. The nation awarded 20 permits after receiving 64 bids for 30 offshore lots.

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