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Myanmar awards 20 oil exploration blocks

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YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Major oil companies including Total, Chevron, Woodside Energy and Shell have won bids for offshore oil and gas exploration blocks off Myanmar's western and southern coasts, the country's Energy Ministry said Wednesday.

An announcement on the ministry's website said 13 oil companies won bids to explore in 10 shallow water blocks and 10 deep water blocks in the Gulf of Martaban and Tanintharyi, off the western state of Rakhine.

Multinational oil companies such as Dutch Shell, Total E&P, Norwegian Statoil and ConocoPhillips won deep water blocks, Chevron a shallow water block and Australia's Woodside Energy won both shallow and deep water blocks, it said. Other major oil companies among the winning bidders included Italy's Eni and India's Reliance Industries and Oil India.

"Considering the winning bidders include some household name international oil companies and prominent independents, this bodes well for the future of oil and gas in Myanmar and will help to lift the overall standards of the greater investment environment in the country," said Nomita Nair, a partner in the international law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner, which has a specialty in the sector.

The Energy Ministry said production-sharing contracts would be awarded after it verifies the winning bidders' terms and conditions.

Most of Myanmar's current hydrocarbon production is natural gas. According to official statistics, the country exported $3.7 billion worth of gas in fiscal year 2012-2013, mostly to Thailand.

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