The Japanese company, Mitsui Oil Exploration Company (MOECO), is all set to make its first foray into Bangladesh's onshore oil and gas exploratory job.
To this end, it has recently inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Bangladesh Petroleum Exploration and Production Company Ltd (Bapex) to drill onshore blocks 08 and 11.
"We've inked the MoU with the Japanese firm to develop two onshore blocks under a joint-venture agreement (JVA)," said Bapex managing director Mohammad Ali.
As agreed, he said, the MOECO would do a detailed study on both the blocks, including 2-D (two dimensional) and 3-D (three dimensional) seismic surveys, on its own.
The firm would have access to relevant data already collected by the Bapex on the blocks in question, Mr Ali told the FE.
A separate JVA would be inked if prospects are there.
If the MOECO gets the job, it would be the maiden entry of any Japanese oil-gas exploration firm into Bangladesh's hydrocarbon exploration sector.
The company has proposed to drill four wells-two exploratory wells and two development wells-in those blocks, a senior Petrobangla official told the FE.
In 2016, it spotted Madarganj and Jamalpur for hydrocarbon reserves following a joint study with Bangladesh's apex oil-gas firm Petrobangla, its subsidiary Bapex and the state-owned Bangladesh Petroleum Institute (BPI).
In 2015, it also found dozens of seismic leads, meaning a primarily spotted prospective site for deposits, following a seismic stratigraphic study jointly with Petrobangla, Bapex and BPI.
Under the joint exploration plan, the MOECO is eyeing the drilling of Madarganj and Jamalpur wells.
It has also planned to drill two wells in separate prospective locations and conduct a 3-D seismic survey on both the blocks.
Officials said onshore blocks 08 and 11 are the 'ring-fenced' blocks of Bapex, which has long been lying idle without any significant exploration.
The Japanese firm has come up to explore these blocks to help increase the domestic natural gas output and ease growing dependency on import of 'expensive' liquefied natural gas.
Petrobangla would also develop untapped gas fields by international oil companies (IOCs) under the revenue-sharing contract (RSC), a new arrangement for doing the job, a senior energy ministry official said.
The RSC is a sort of joint venture, which is being planned with reputed global exploratory firms, for further exploration and initiation of gas output.
The IOCs might be solely responsible and shoulder the risks of carrying out hydrocarbon exploration in a particular contract area under the RSC concept.
But they would share a certain portion of revenue with the government, depending on the overall hydrocarbon output from the area concerned.
Petrobangla, however, could not confirm whether the MOECO would explore local fields under the RSC or not.
Many developed countries like Canada and Brazil are utilising such mechanisms to boost local hydrocarbon production, said the Petrobangla official.
Even the neighbouring India has made a move to adopt these new mechanisms, he added.