Interview with M&AOSB Project Manager
Could you please explain what an “Offshore Supply Base” is in general?
An Offshore Supply Base is a logistic platform where oil & gas offshore exploration and production activities rely on to perform their activities. It is an essential part of any oil & gas offshore project, ensuring that the materials and resources required (either by drilling rigs or production platforms) are delivered efficiently and on time. An Offshore Supply Base requires the following infrastructures within the same premises: a jetty capable of receiving vessels with minimum 8 m draft, warehouses, bonded areas, open storage, a liquid mud plant, a dry bulk plant, machining workshops, waste treatment facilities, and other services alike required by oil & gas operators and service providers.
As we all know, our neighboring countries have a maximum of three OSB projects. What is your opinion on local and international OSB projects?
The number of OSBs required by a country is a function of their geography and the location and number of its oil & gas offshore blocks. As a rule of thumb, Offshore Supply Bases should be located within a 200 nautical-mile distance from oil & gas offshore acreage, which is equivalent to 24-hours sailing distance on an Offshore Supply Vessel. If you look at Malaysia, there are two main OSBs: one covering the eastern offshore blocks (located in Kemaman), and the other covering the western offshore oil & gas blocks (located in Labuan). More recently, Malaysia has developed a third OSB to cover the central offshore acreage. In the case of Vietnam, so far only one OSB was developed in the south, which may change in the future if additional oil & gas reserves are found in the northern Vietnam. Thailand only has one fully capable OSB, located at Songkhla and serving the Gulf of Thailand, while Ranong, facing the Andaman Sea, is targeting oil & gas projects in Myanmar — however, it is not a fully developed and capable OSB, relying heavily on Songkhla and Kemaman.
In Myanmar’s case, and considering its geography and coastline, a maximum of two OSBs should be allowed: one covering the northern and central oil & gas acreage, and the other covering the southern oil & gas blocks.
What would you say about the importance of OSBs and M&AOSB in specific?
Offshore Supply Bases are strategic infrastructures to any oil & gas production country: they should be the cornerstone of a country’s oil & gas industry. An OSB plays an important role on the development of oil & gas capabilities and resources within each country, fostering the establishment of an industry driven by, and for, oil & gas resources. For years, Myanmar has allowed most of its oil & gas services to be offered from either Singapore or Thailand, which represents considerable amount of capital outflow but most importantly, it jeopardizes the opportunity to develop and train Myanmar people in the oil & gas service industry. OSBs should be designed as centers of excellence, focusing at offering competitive services to the oil & gas industry as well as developing resources and capabilities within the country. M&AOSB aims to be the reference of the oil & gas industry in Myanmar, reducing the country’s dependence on foreign countries when it comes to operate our own oil & gas fields.
Why did M&AOSB select Nga Yoke Kaung as site location?
Our vision is to develop the western coast of the Ayeyarwady Region as the Western Seaboard of the East-West Economic Corridor (EWEC), acting as Myanmar Gateway to the occident via the Indian Ocean. As we all know, Myanmar is lacking Deep-Sea Port infrastructures especially in coastal regions, which will eventually hamper Myanmar’s future as an agricultural, manufacturing, and exporting country. We look to our Offshore Supply Base as the very beginning of what will be a Deep-Sea Port, serving not only Myanmar but also as a connection to the EWEC through Thailand and Vietnam. Therefore, site location is not only about the Offshore Supply Base but also a location for a future Deep-Sea port. Nga Yoke Kaung Bay ticks all the boxes in terms of water depth, land availability, proximity to offshore oil & gas blocks, socio-environmental aspects as well as other technical requirements. In fact, we have secured the services of the Dutch maritime consultant, Royal HaskoningDHV, to assist us in the selection of the preferred location for both an Offshore Supply Base and a Deep-Sea Port.
Recently, the final report meeting for “Feasibility Study on the Central Backbone Expressway in Myanmar (Yangon-Mandalay Expressway and Yangon-Nga Yoke Kaung Expressway)”, jointly conducted by the Department of Highway of the Ministry of Construction and KOICA Myanmar Office, was successfully accomplished. What are your thoughts regarding such expressway development regarding to M&AOSB Project in Nga Yoke Kaung?
This is great news, learning that the Government is supporting the development of the Ayeyarwady Region and its coastal area which is in line with our vision and will come as a support to our project. Road connectivity is an essential part of any OSB or Deep-Sea Port, therefore knowing that an Expressway is being considered to connect the Ayeyarwady Coastline to Yangon is very encouraging. The Expressway Feasibility Study prepared by KOICA considers two options for the end point at the Ayeyarwady Region: Nga Yoke Kaung Bay or Danson Bay. We are perseverant in our vision and we shall continue to work towards the development of Nga Yoke Kaung Bay as the preferred location for a Deep-Sea Port and as the end-point of the Expressway.
What are the proposed project activities and the current project updates?
The world is facing an unprecedented crisis with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, Myanmar is no different and is also being severely affected, which is resulting in delays to our project commencement date. Our Construction Contractor is ready to start construction, subject to positive developments of the pandemic.
What are the key milestones and future goals of M&AOSB?
We have achieved great milestones so far, being the most relevant the award of the project Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) and the conclusion of our tender process and selection of the Construction Contractor. In the short-term, we are very keen to commence construction works and finally to start operations within (2) years after commencing construction.
What are your thoughts on Social Management in M&AOSB?
I am positively surprised and impressed with the standards of MPRL Group of Companies when it comes to Social and Environmental Management. We do not think short-term, we make sure investments made in the communities are far more reaching which is why our main areas of investments (when it comes to social management) are in education, health, infrastructure, and livelihoods. I am particularly impressed with the recent full scholarship award through U Moe Myint & Family’s Educational Foundation to a student in Nga Yoke Kaung Town, who was capable in achieving distinctions in all subjects in the 2020 Matriculation Exam.
What kind of opportunities will the project bring to the country and the host community?
The opportunities for the country are several and have been explained in previous questions. In summary, it is all about developing local expertise in Myanmar to serve the country’s oil & gas industry, ensuring that Myanmar is less dependent on neighboring countries. There will also be plenty of advantages for the community, which will allow for a sustainable development of the people in the Region. M&AOSB’s CSR Program has provided skill and vocational trainings to promote job opportunities for local communities, and to help increase their income. Since 2018, a total of 420 community members have completed trainings organized by our CSR Program. We have also ensured that the construction contractor will give priority to the local community when it comes to employment.
What would you like to deliver as a concluding remark in this conversation?
It’s been a challenging journey to arrive where we are today, I am proud to participate and offer my contribution to this wonderful team, and I look forward to bring the project to a successful completion in a near future. MPRL Group of Companies is a diversified conglomerate that gives plenty of opportunities for its employees to grow, develop, and participate in projects that are materially significant for the country. We believe in the further development of the Ayeyarwady Region, which is why our investment is mostly focused in this region. The ongoing development of Block A-6 Gas Field and the future landing of a gas pipeline in Nga Yoke Kaung, will act as the catalyst for a solid establishment of our Offshore Supply Base, but will also open an avenue for further investment projects such as a Power Plant, and a full fledge Deep-Sea Port. For this to happen, proper road connectivity is of the essence, which is why it is so inspiring to learn that the Government of Myanmar is considering the construction of an Expressway from Yangon to Nga Yoke Kaung.