Myanmar Faces Challenges Developing its Upstream Assets

“Woodside is of the view that there is a significant hydrocarbon potential in the Rakhine Basin [offshore Myanmar] … One of the challenges will be the development of such multiple reservoir bodies … We need excellent 3D data quality ... to be able to unravel the complexity of the plays,” Walker said.

Under the PSC terms, MOGE required contractors to complete their study period for seismic acquisition and processing as well as interpretation and geological studies in one year for shallow water blocks and two years for deepwater blocks. Such a timeline for seismic acquisition and interpretation is deemed too short by some in the industry.

“The challenge is the strongest in the shallow water blocks where you have one year to undertake your study, and if those study involves seismic … you got to get timing right. In deepwater, you have two years, it’s still a challenge because if you miss the first season then you enter the second season … 3D data will take some time to acquire and process,” Walker added. 

Myanmar’s weather exerts pressure on the timeline given to PSC contractors as the most suitable drilling season is confined to a relatively short window, lasting from December to April. While drilling is possible during June and October, support services such as supply vessels and helicopters may struggle to operate during the monsoon season, contributing to downtime for drilling rigs.

“In a nutshell, you’ve got a very short drilling window [even though] you’ve planned a year ahead because in deepwater drilling there are not many rigs. Most contractors of deepwater rigs don’t want to give you the rig one well at a time. This is a real challenge in picking up rigs and getting to the point where you can drill the well on time in the commitment window,” Walker highlighted. 

As drilling in deepwater is a very complex operation, top priority is accorded to safety and environmental issues and contractors are likely to hire a rig staffed by an experienced crew.

Given current constraints posed by weather and logistics offshore Myanmar, operators could consider cooperation among themselves to achieve exploration objectives within the timeline allocated under the PSCs. Operators could also share the costs of engaging drilling rigs and informing  one another about seismic plans in the areas to avoid overlapping activities caused by data acquisition. 


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