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Eni to explore for reserves offshore Myanmar

Italian company now one of largest energy companies in Myanmar.

By Daniel J. Graeber

NAYPYITAW, Myanmar, March 31 (UPI) -- Italian energy company Eni said Tuesday it's now among the largest operators in an emerging Myanmar after signing new production sharing contracts.

"With the contracts signed today, we have further expanded our exploration portfolio through new and important opportunities, which allow Eni to strengthen its presence in a country with a significant potential and a rapidly developing economy," Eni Chief Executive Officer Claudio Descalzi said in a statement.

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Eni signed two production sharing contracts for reserve areas in the Rakhine basin off the country's western coast. The Italian company said the contracts involve a two-year study period, which will be followed by a six-year exploration phase.

"Today we become one of the largest operators in the exploration activities in Myanmar, taking a further step in our organic growth strategy in Southeast Asia where we are already present in China, Vietnam and Indonesia," Descalzi said.

Global energy companies have shown a greater interest in Myanmar since military rule ended in the country with general elections in 2010. An easing of sanctions followed democratic reforms, though humanitarian critics said it was those sanctions that encouraged the political transformation in the first place.

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A subsidiary of Chevron last week signed similar deals with the government of Myanmar last week. The company said the deal is part of a strategy to meet growing needs in the Asia-Pacific.

Eni offered no estimate of the reserve potential offshore Myanmar.

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