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Thailand-Burma energy relationship

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Military conflicts between Burma & Thailand have shut the border in the past, but the natural gas supply to Thailand has never been turned off. 

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Exploring for the long haul

After more than two decades in Myanmar, PTTEP is well positioned to deal with any changes in energy needs as well as regulation
27/02/2012
Umesh Pandey, Editor for Asia Focus

Resource-rich Myanmar is poised to be a major contributor to Thailand's future energy needs, including gas and possibly electricity from hydropower dams planned for the years ahead.

"Myanmar may account for up to 10% of our total investments in the years to come and the country would supply up to 25% of Thailand's need for natural gas," says Anon Sirisaengtaksin, the president and CEO of PTT Exploration and Production Plc.

The exploration arm of Thailand's largest energy company is no stranger to Myanmar, having begun operations there in 1989. And despite Myanmar's troubled political past, internal strife and occasional conflicts that resulted in border closures, natural gas supplies from Myanmar to Thailand have never been disrupted, says Mr Anon.

"There is no threat to the company's operations from the changes in the government and therefore it gives more legitimacy to the government to grant more concessions," he said at a recent seminar.

In the most recent licensing round overseen by the new government, PTTEP secured more exploration blocks in the Bay of Bengal. Its Zawtika wells are likely to start producing sometime in 2013 and others such as M-3 and M-11, still in the exploration process, may take more time to be operational.

The Zawtika project, which covers 12,306 square kilometres in the Gulf of Martaban, is 80% owned by PTTEP International and 20% by Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise.

The company currently operates three offshore and two onshore blocks while another two (Yadana and Yetagun) are joint ventures with foreign partners.

"We are at the moment looking for technology for deep water, technology that is not there in Myanmar and for M-11 we need deep water of more than one kilometre," Mr Anon said.

The Yadana and Yetagun blocks have been relatively successful, in contrast to the disappointment of PTTEP's first venture into Myanmar. It began work in the country on the so-called Block F in 1989 but found no gas and terminated the contract in 1997. 

"We returned the first block (a joint venture with Unocal) as it was unsuccessful and since then there have been a series of opportunities and more will arise in the future," Mr Anon said.

PTTEP could face more competition in the future in Myanmar if its current reforms lead to the easing of sanctions imposed for two decades by western governments. No major western oil and gas company has any big presence in Myanmar except Total of France. That has left the field open to Asian players including PTTEP, Sinopec of China, Petronas of Malaysia and Essar of India.

And even as the new government starts to open up the economy and welcome more foreign investment, there are signs that it will start driving a harder bargain with companies seeking to exploit its rich oil and gas reserves. As well, as the economy grows, so too will domestic energy needs.

"Myanmar is now looking at greater supply for itself as there is a growing shortage of electricity and new projects now have a clause requiring that they supply part of the gas to the domestic market," said Mr Anon.

He also has a few words of advice for investors who may be looking at Myanmar for the first time: Don't look at the short-term returns only, as was evident from early struggles of PTTEP, which has a long-haul outlook.

"Once you go to Myanmar you have to think long-term and not hit-and-run," he said, adding that while many drawbacks remain in the country, the opportunity outweighs most of them. 

These opportunities for oil and gas companies exist not just in the upstream market but also downstream where there is a lack of infrastructure for petrochemical plants.

Myanmar, with oil production capacity estimated in 2010 at 21,000 barrels a day and natural gas production of 11.54 billion cubic feet, still lacks facilities such as modern refineries and has a very limited processing capacity.

"Myanmar needs things such as deep-water technology, which it is looking for, and downstream operations are either ageing or not sufficient to meet future needs. It is basically an overhaul of the system that needs to be undertaken," he said.

Parent PTT Plc, he added, has been looking into the possibility of setting up an operation in Myanmar, although details have not yet been confirmed.

(Source: Bangkok Post, Exploring for the long haul, After more than two decades in Myanmar, PTTEP is well positioned to deal with any changes in energy needs as well as regulation, 27/02/2012, Umesh Pandey, Editor for Asia Focus, link

Energy Sector Vocabulary

PTT - "a Thai state-owned SET-listed oil and gas company. Formerly known as the Petroleum Authority of Thailand, it owns extensive submarine gas pipelines in the Gulf of Thailand, a network of LPG terminals throughout the Kingdom, and is involved in electricity generation, petrochemical products, oil and gas exploration and production, and gasoline retailing businesses.  Affiliated companies include PTT Exploration and Production, PTT Global Chemical and PTT Green Energy. PTT is one of the largest corporations in the country and also the only company from Thailand that listed in the Fortune Global 500 companies, which ranks 155 among top 500 companies in the world and 25 in Asia as published by Fortune magazine in 2010" (See Wikipedia)

haul - to pull something heavy slowly and with difficulty ลาก
long-haul - over a very long period of time; over the long-term

exploring for the long haul

decades - periods of ten years เป็นสิบๆปี
regulation - the laws that control and govern the industry or activity กฎระเบียบ ระเบียบข้อบังคับ

after more than two decades in Myanmar, PTTEP is well positioned to deal with any changes in energy needs as well as regulation

resource - "natural resources" such as trees, oil, coal, etc
resource-rich - 1. having a lot of resources; 2. rich because of its many resources 

poised
- about to do or achieve something ได้มาซึ่ง

contribute (verb) - give
contributor (noun) - a person or organization that gives
major contributor - one that gives a lot

hydropower - using the fast moving water in rivers to generate electricity (See Wikipedia) hydroelectricity
hydropower dams - a dam that uses river water to make electricity

Resource-
rich Myanmar is poised to be a major contributor to Thailand's future energy needs, including gas and possibly electricity from hydropower dams planned for the years ahead. "Myanmar may account for up to 10% of our total investments in the years to come and the country would supply up to 25% of Thailand's need for natural gas," says Anon Sirisaengtaksin, the president and CEO of PTT Exploration and Production Plc.

exploration - when you search and find out about something การสำรวจ, การค้นหา
arm - part of a large company or organization ส่วนหนึ่งของ หน่วยงาน
exploration arm - the part of the company that searches for oil and natural gas

is no stranger to -
has experience with a place or thing

troubled
- has problems
troubled political past - has had a lot of political problems in the past

internal - existing or happening inside a person, object, organisation, place or country ภายใน
strife - disagreement or fighting between people or groups การขัดแย้งกัน  การต่อสู้กั
internal strife - fighting in the country

conflicts
- disagreements and fighting ความขัดแย้ง

border
- the official line separating two areas, regions or countries เขตแดน อาณาเขต
border closures - when the border between two countries is closed

disrupted
- interrupted and prevented from continuing smoothly by creating problems ขัดขวาง

The exploration arm of Thailand's largest energy company is no stranger to Myanmar, having begun operations there in 1989. And despite Myanmar's troubled political past, internal strife and occasional conflicts that resulted in border closures, natural gas supplies from Myanmar to Thailand have never been disrupted, says Mr Anon.

threat - a danger อันตราย
legitimacy - that fact that something is legal; the fact that something is fair and reasonable ถูกต้องตามกฎหมาย ความชอบธรรม
grant
- to officially give something ให้
concessions - permission from the government to do some kind business (search for oil in an area, build a phone network, for example)
grant concessions -

"There is no threat to the company's operations from the changes in the government and therefore it gives more legitimacy to the government to grant more concessions," he said at a recent seminar.

licensing - getting official permission from the government to do a certain activity
licensing round - issueing a new set of licenses (that will exist for a period of time)

exploration blocks in the Bay of Bengal. Its Zawtika wells are likely to start producing sometime in 2013 and others such as M-3 and M-11, still in the 

process
- a series of actions that you take in order to achieve a result แนวทางปฏิบัติ, กระบวน, วิธีการ
exploration process - all the activities of searching and looking for oil

operational - able to work normally working; able to be used  ที่สามารถใช้งานได้

In the most recent licensing round overseen by the new government, PTTEP secured more exploration blocks in the Bay of Bengal. Its Zawtika wells are likely to start producing sometime in 2013 and others such as M-3 and M-11, still in the exploration process, may take more time to be operational. The Zawtika project, which covers 12,306 square kilometres in the Gulf of Martaban, is 80% owned by PTTEP International and 20% by Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise.

offshore - in the ocean; at sea  
onshore - on land

joint - done with someone else ร่วมกัน
joint ventures - companies that are owned and operated by more than one company

partners - the companies owning part of the joint venture หุ้นส่วน
foreign partners

The company currently operates three offshore and two onshore blocks while another two (Yadana and Yetagun) are joint ventures with foreign partners. "We are at the moment looking for technology for deep water, technology that is not there in Myanmar and for M-11 we need deep water of more than one kilometre," Mr Anon said.

contrast - a difference between two things when you compare them ความแตกต่าง
in contrast to - different from

venture - a new activity, usually in business, which involves risk or uncertainty ธุริกิจเสี่ยงแต่สามารถทำกำไรได้
venture into - go into a new place for the first time

contract - a written (or oral) agreement that is legally binding สัญญา
terminated contract - ended contract

opportunities - situations in which it is possible to do what you want or need to do
series of opportunities - one opportunity then another opportunity then another .... and so on

The Yadana and Yetagun blocks have been relatively successful, in contrast to the disappointment of PTTEP's first venture into Myanmar. It began work in the country on the so-called Block F in 1989 but found no gas and terminated the contract in 1997.   "We returned the first block (a joint venture with Unocal) as it was unsuccessful and since then there have been a series of opportunities and more will arise in the future," Mr Anon said.

current - of the present time ปัจจุบัน
reforms - improvements in the way that government works
sanctions - punishment for countries that have broken international law (restricting trade and official contact)
imposed - force someone to do something or follow some rule
presence - when someone or something is in a place การอยู่ในสถานที่หนึ่ง (ของบุคคล)
players
- an important company, person, or country in an industry ผู้ค้าคนสำคัญ หรือผู้ค้ารายใหญ่

PTTEP could face more competition in the future in Myanmar if its current reforms lead to the easing of sanctions imposed for two decades by western governments. No major western oil and gas company has any big presence in Myanmar except Total of France. That has left the field open to Asian players including PTTEP, Sinopec of China, Petronas of Malaysia and Essar of India.

investment - taking your money and putting it into projects to make a profit or earn interest (buying stock shares, bonds, real estate)
foreign investment - investment by companies from other countries
driving a harder bargain -
exploit - to treat someone unfairly in order to get some benefit for yourself หาประโยชน์จาก (See glossary) ตักตวงผลประโยชน์
reserves - a supply kept for future use when needed สงวน สำรอง
oil and gas reserves - oil and gas that can be used in the future
domestic - within the country ภายในประเทศ
domestic energy needs - the need by people in the country for oil, natural gas, electricity, etc
shortage - when there is not enough of something การขาดแคลน

And even as the new government starts to open up the economy and welcome more foreign investment, there are signs that it will start driving a harder bargain with companies seeking to exploit its rich oil and gas reserves. As well, as the economy grows, so too will domestic energy needs. "Myanmar is now looking at greater supply for itself as there is a growing shortage of electricity and new projects now have a clause requiring that they supply part of the gas to the domestic market," said Mr Anon.

returns - the money an investor gets back from an investment
evident - easy to see and notice, clear เห็นไ้ด้ชัด
struggles - experiences difficulty and makes a very great effort in order to do something ดิ้นรน
outlook - what people think will happen in the future อนาคตที่คาดไว้ ภาพรวม อนาคต

He also has a few words of advice for investors who may be looking at Myanmar for the first time: Don't look at the short-term returns only, as was evident from early struggles of PTTEP, which has a long-haul outlook.

hit and run - 1. very short term thinking for immediate profit right now; 2. an accident in which a car hits another car or person and then runs away
drawbacks - things or features that make less acceptable, disadvantages
opportunity - a situation when it is possible to do something that you want to do (See glossary)
X outweighs Y - X is more important than Y

"Once you go to Myanmar you have to think long-term and not hit-and-run," he said, adding that while many drawbacks remain in the country, the opportunity outweighs most of them. 

upstream - at an early stage in the process of producing a product for sale (early in the supply chain)
downstream - at an late stage in the process of producing a product for sale (late in the supply chain)
lack - does not have ขาดแคลน
infrastructure - the high-cost facilities that everyone in the economy shares (water, roads, electricity, trains) สาธารณูปโภค
petrochemical - chemicals made from oil ปิโตรเคมี
plants - factories

These opportunities for oil and gas companies exist not just in the upstream market but also downstream where there is a lack of infrastructure for petrochemical plants.

capacity - the amount of something that can be produced ความสามารถในการ (ผลิต)
facilities - the buildings, equipment and services provided for a particular purpose สิ่งอำนวยความสะดวก สถานที่และสิ่งอำนวยความสะดวก

Myanmar, with oil production capacity estimated in 2010 at 21,000 barrels a day and natural gas production of 11.54 billion cubic feet, still lacks facilities such as modern refineries and has a very limited processing capacity.

sufficient - enough พอเพียง
overhaul - to repair completely; to improve something so that every part of it works properly ปรับปรุงใหม่
undertaken - done
confirmed - shows that is definitely true or definitely exists

"Myanmar needs things such as deep-water technology, which it is looking for, and downstream operations are either ageing or not sufficient to meet future needs. It is basically an overhaul of the system that needs to be undertaken," he said. Parent PTT Plc, he added, has been looking into the possibility of setting up an operation in Myanmar, although details have not yet been confirmed.

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