The international expansion of Woodside Petroleum under chief executive Peter Coleman has continued, with the company yesterday confirming it had picked up a second exploration permit off the coast of Myanmar. Woodside will take a 50 per cent interest in the lease, dubbed Block A-6, which sits in the Rakhine Basin off the country’s west coast and is currently owned by a private Myanmarese company.

The move follows Woodside’s decision to join Korean company Daewoo International in Block AD-7, also in the Rakhine Basin.

While Block A-6 is still at an early stage of exploration, with the partners only committed to carrying out a seismic survey with an option to drill in the future, it does offer the potential to eventually lessen the company’s reliance on its core Australian assets.

Myanmar has increasingly found itself as a hotspot for oil and gas exploration. International oil and gas giants Total and Chevron have had business interests in the nation for some time, but recent discoveries — predominantly in the Rakhine Basin — and moves by the ruling military junta to open the country up to the rest of the world has seen interest in the country’s oil and gas potential rise significantly.
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State-owned energy giants including Petronas of Malaysia and China’s CNOOC and Sinopec are among the oil and gas companies currently exploring in the nation. Key attractions include its geographic proximity to China, which abuts Myanmar’s northeastern border.

A number of companies are looking to export gas from Myanmar into China’s neighbouring Yunnan province.