PTTEP will take over as “successor operator” of the giant Yadana field offshore Myanmar when TotalEnergies pulls out, likely in July, with PTTEP citing continuing energy security for Myanmar and Thailand as underpinning its decision.

Thailand’s national upstream company, one of the four Yadana partners, said it has carefully considered the status of the field, placing the utmost importance on continuity of gas production and preventing disruption to energy demand, since the Yadana project is “a pivotal source of natural gas supply to the livelihood of the people” in Myanmar and Thailand.

The asset produces about 770 million cubic feet per day of gas. Some 220 MMcfd of the volumes are used domestically, accounting for 50% of Myanmar’s gas demand; while the majority of around 550 MMcfd of Yadana’s gas is fed to 12 power plants, delivering energy to 11 million people living in the west and central part of Thailand. This imported pipeline gas contributes to about 11% of the kingdom’s gas demand.

Under the Yadana Production Operating Agreement, TotalEnergies’ share will be allocated proportionately to the remaining joint-venture partners with no commercial value. After the effective date of the French operator’s withdrawal, PTTEP will hold a 37.0842% participating interest, while Chevron’s stake will increase to 41.1016% — then the largest share — and state-owned Myanma Oil & Gas Enterprise (MOGE) will see its holding go up to 21.8142%.

PTTEP said the remaining partners have agreed to it taking over Yadana.

“The operatorship transfer, which is expected the completion on 20 July, requires full support from TotalEnergies to assure seamless transition and production continuity with safety standard,” PTTEP said.

Announcing its move on Monday, the Thai company made no reference to MOGE — the state-owned oil and gas company with de facto links to Myanmar’s military junta — or to any plans to buy Chevron’s soon-to-be increased Yadana stake.

Upstream revealed on 3 March that Chevron would not be following in TotalEnergies’ footsteps and simply walking away from this flagship asset but that the US supermajor instead is looking for a commercial deal.

The Western partners earlier this year elected to pull out of Yadana, apparently finally bowing to external pressure to distance themselves from Myanmar where the security situation has again deteriorated since the military seized power in February last year.

“We do not have an exit date. An exit date will depend on several factors, including the progress of confidential commercial discussions, transfer of operatorship and the well-being of our employees,” Chevron earlier told Upstream.

A Chevron spokesperson confirmed the company is hoping to secure a commercial deal — a sale — of its Myanmar assets, an approach that it believes will provide greater control over future Yadana operatorship and any future incoming joint-venture parties.

“This was a commercial decision, based on a review of our portfolio and given the current outlook.”

“PTTEP is the company best placed to take on operatorship,” Chevron added.

The Thai company told Upstream: “PTTEP is yet to consider acquiring any further participating interest of the project.”

The “successor operator” had this to say on its stance on operating in Myanmar: “Throughout three decades of its operation[s], PTTEP always put the importance on maintaining energy security and conducting its business by adhering to the principle of good corporate governance in every country [in which] the company operates.

“The company recognises that equitable access to energy is a fundamental human right that all people are entitled to,” PTTEP said.

“Considering the current situation in Myanmar and certain time frame for the change of operator, PTTEP as a capable company with the operation[al] familiarities of the Yadana field will help securing the continuity of natural gas supply and, more importantly, safe operation.”

The Thai company noted that it taking the helm of Yadana would ensure no interruption to natural gas supply and would reinforce long-term energy security to the ASEAN neighbours, in a region where other energy sources are not the primary source of electricity generation.

“ASEAN countries have been co-operating and supporting each other in various aspects, working hand in hand in a way that will help develop economies and improve quality of lives of their people. The existence of reliable sources of energy to serve the domestic consumptions is essential for improving people’s standard of living and driving the country’s economy,” PTTEP added.

Updated with comment from PTTEP.