Thailand is determined to launch its planned 2020 offshore exploration licensing round as soon as there is an improvement in the Covid-19 situation, officials said at the OTC Asia conference.

The 23rd licensing round will comprise three blocks — G1/63, G2/63 and G3/63 — totalling more than 34,000 square kilometres.

G1/63 is near the Erawan field, G2/63 is close to the Pailin field and G3/63 is south of the Bongkot field.

Officials from the Department of Mineral Fuels said in a virtual presentation at the OTC Asia conference that each tract has good oil and gas potential and there is a wealth of available supporting exploration data.

Any gas discoveries will be given priority for development as there is a looming domestic gas supply shortage.

The officials said the 23rd Bidding Round will take place once the Covid-19 pandemic situation gets better.

Thailand’s last licensing round was in 2007.

The officials said the government in recent times has made improvements to the fiscal regime for oil and gas exploration and production, and that oil and gas remain essential to Thailand's economy.

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Gas, in particular, is in high demand but a supply shortfall is looming. Liquefied natural gas imports and pipeline gas from neighbouring countries are potential sources of additional supply but the kingdom would also like to see more domestic gas production for the local market.