PERTH, Australia, May 20 (UPI) -- Australian energy company Woodside said it raised its reserve estimate for natural gas offshore Myanmar at a time when sanctions pressures are easing.
Woodside said it increased its best estimate of the contingent reserve potential offshore Myanmar by 83 million barrels of oil equivalent following the technical evaluation of two exploration wells drilled in the area.
Peter Coleman, the company's chief executive officer, said the discovery would help ensure its portfolio is enhanced in line with emerging strategies to drill as many as seven new wells in the region by next year.
"Our strategy is to fully appraise the discovery in one campaign, thereby facilitating concept select in 2017," he said in a statement.
In a presentation to investors, the company said Myanmar was a central part of its plans to deliver 2.4 billion barrels of oil equivalent in growth projects over the next decade. As one of the earlier players in offshore Myanmar, the company said it has a "commanding strategic advantage."
A March report from the Asian Development Bank said the economy for Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, is expected to grow by 8.4 percent this year, after easing to 7.2 percent when widespread natural disasters left parts of the country flooded. Foreign investments, meanwhile, are necessary to advance much-needed developments in the expanding energy sector, the bank said.
Sanctions pressures on Myanmar eased after 2010 elections, giving foreign investors more opportunities in the once-isolated country. Htin Kyaw, a close confidant of democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, was sworn in this year as the first civilian president of the country since 1962. In his inaugural address, he said the much-needed reforms would address many of Myanmar's long-term desires.
This week, the U.S. State Department relaxed sanctions regulations on Myanmar in order to support trade with the country.
"Burma reached a historic milestone over the last year by holding competitive elections and peacefully transitioning to a democratically-elected government, Adam Szubin, acting undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement.