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West Callisto Drills for Total Offshore Myanmar

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Total recently started drilling operations offshore Myanmar at the Yadana field, using Seadrill’s jack-up rig, West Callisto.

According to the Seadrill’s Fleet Status Report for May, Total has hired the rig on a three-month contract. The contract, expiring in mid-July, will bring approximately $12 million to Seadrill.

Total operates the Yadana field (31.2%). Located on offshore Blocks M5 and M6, this field produces gas that is delivered mainly to PTT (the Thai state-owned company) to be used in Thai power plants.

The Yadana field also supplies the domestic market via a land pipeline and, since June 2010, via a sub-sea pipeline built and operated by Myanmar’s state-owned company MOGE.

Following the completion of drilling operations in Myanmar, the rig will leave south-east Asia in which it has been operating since 2010. West Callisto will move to Middle East to commence drilling operations offshore Saudi Arabia under a three-year contract with Saudi Aramco. The drilling program is scheduled to start in September 2012

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Swiber Lands Offshore Construction Job in Gulf of Mexico

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Swiber Holdings Limited, a world class integrated construction and support services provider to the offshore industry, announced that it has secured another sizeable contract through a local collaboration with Dragados Offshore (“Dragados”), totaling approximately US$273 million for offshore construction work in the Gulf of Mexico.

This latest contract win awarded by an oil major from the Gulf of Mexico, entails offshore construction works for the procurement, transportation, and installation of pipeline in the Gulf of Mexico. Work for this project will commence  immediately this year and will carry on into 2013.

Commented Mr. Francis Wong, Group Chief Executive Officer and President of Swiber, “Our strategic collaboration with Dragados enables both companies to provide a consolidated source of expertise and offer turnkey solutions to the offshore oil and gas industry. This puts us in a strong position to bank on the vast opportunities in the Gulf of Mexico region.”

With this third consecutive contract announcement in less than three months of 2012, Swiber’s order backlog continues to strengthen with steady growth.

This has come in quick succession to the recent US$36 million worth of vessel charter contract wins in the Gulf of Mexico and Southeast Asia. Prior to that, the Group has secured a US$216 million contract early last month, for offshore construction projects and vessel chartering services in Southeast Asia and South Asia.

Mr. Wong said, “This is indeed a winning season for us as we continue to secure contracts of larger values, which is a strong reflection of the confidence and trust that major oil companies have on Swiber’s ability in handling complex projects.

“Geographical diversification will remain the cornerstone of our growth path as we further strengthen our foothold in the offshore oil and gas industry in the region. This, coupled with our vessel fleet enhancements carried out in the past few years will enable us to concurrently manage our offshore projects while securing more contract wins.

“We have continued to break into new frontiers – new markets, new customers, new records in terms of size of contracts, revenue and order book. We have a strong order book visibility with offshore projects spread out over the next couple of years. This will clearly give us a solid footing to navigate forward in the exciting offshore oil and gas construction industry.”

Infield Systems has forecasted upstream capex in the Gulf of Mexico to increase by as much as 38% year-on-year in 2012 as operators push forward with development plans and execute offshore projects. Offshore capex is forecasted to increase from $9 billion in 2011 to over $12.5 billion per annum by 2015.

Concluded Mr. Wong, “Tendering activities in the offshore oil and gas industry is gaining traction, with vast opportunities appearing in the Gulf of Mexico. As an internationally recognised, world class company, with proven track record of delivering consistent and superior quality of products and services, Swiber is ready to support the region’s growing offshore exploration and field development market.”

With a slew of new contract wins, key strategies in place, strong order book visibility, and robust opportunities in the Southeast Asia, South Asia, Middle East and Gulf of Mexico regions, Swiber has firmly entrenched its position in the big league and is set to take on bigger ventures and capture fresh and exciting opportunities in the offshore oil and gas arena.

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Mexico: Cal Dive Nets Second Pemex Contract

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Cal Dive International, Inc. announced that it has been awarded a contract by Pemex Exploración y Producción for the installation of a 20 inch subsea pipeline located in the Abkatun Pol Chuc Field in 73 meters of water.

The contract is expected to generate total revenue of approximately $46 million and will utilize two of the Company’s key assets. The offshore construction is expected to commence in the second quarter 2012.

Quinn Hébert, President and Chief Executive Officer of Cal Dive, stated, “We are pleased to announce our second contract win in Mexico for 2012. Mexico is shaping up to be a very active market in 2012 as expected. So far we have been awarded contracts in Mexico with aggregate expected revenue in 2012 of approximately $70 million compared to revenues generated from Mexico projects in 2011 of approximately $30 million.

Cal Dive International, Inc., headquartered in Houston, Texas, is a marine contractor that provides an integrated offshore construction solution to its customers, including manned diving, pipelay and pipe burial, platform installation and platform salvage services to the offshore oil and natural gas industry on the Gulf of Mexico OCS, Northeastern U.S., Latin America, Southeast Asia, China, Australia, the Middle East and the Mediterranean, with a fleet of 29 vessels, including 19 surface and saturation diving support vessels and 10 construction barges.

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USA: SEACOR Buys 18 Liftboats from Superior

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SEACOR Marine has reached an agreement with Superior Energy Services L.L.C. to purchase 18 liftboats for $134 million plus working capital.

The transaction is expected to close by the end of March 2012, subject to regulatory approvals. All of the liftboats are currently located in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico.

U.S.-based SEACOR Marine, a subsidiary of SEACOR Holdings Inc., operates a fleet of offshore marine support vessels, serving the global offshore oil and gas exploration and production industry worldwide with operations and infrastructure concentrated in the United States, Latin America, North Sea, West Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East.

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As It Pivots Toward Asia, America Brings an Undefined Era to a Close

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Anindya Novyan Bakrie | December 19, 2011

At the beginning of the 21st century, the Indo-Pacific region, consisting of the Asia Pacific and South Asia, existed in an interregnum. The Cold War and the period that followed had passed into history, and it was time for a new era to begin.

What began, instead, was the Age of Terror, inaugurated by the 9/11 attacks in the United States. However, unless terrorism wins, it cannot define an era, no matter how terrible its tactics and how atrocious its results. This is because neither terrorism nor the war against it can settle the great issues of the day.

Thus, the war on terror could not and did not define the relationship between the great powers of the region, primarily the United States, China, Japan and India. It did not, because it could not, decide the balance of power among these nations on the basis of their economic, political, military and cultural strengths. Terrorism merely postponed the inevitable rebalancing of power in the Indo-Pacific region. The region lived in an interregnum for the first decade following 9/11.

Now, in the closing months of 2011, the United States has terminated the interregnum and initiated a new era. It has decided to pivot to the region in two ways: by expanding the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade agreement and by deciding to station its troops in the Australian city of Darwin, in a move that could alter the security contours of the Indo-Pacific. No country in the region will be immune to the effects of these changes.

The TPP sends out an economic message that the United States is thinking big. At the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Honolulu last month, US President Barack Obama unveiled the framework of a Pacific-wide free trade agreement involving nine countries.

What had begun in 2005 as an agreement among Brunei, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore took on larger-than-life proportions with the inclusion of Australia, Malaysia, Peru, the United States and Vietnam. Japan announced that it, too, would join the grouping.

Covering 505 million people in an economically exciting part of the world who enjoy a gross domestic product of $16.97 trillion and a GDP per capita of $33,546, the TPP is a super-league FTA in the making.

The United States, with the largest economy in the world, has joined hands with Japan, the third largest economy, and several other vibrant economies in a move that could set the cat among free-trading pigeons, including the European Union.

On the strategic front, the message is the same: the Americans are thinking big. The pivot has taken the form of a US agreement with Australia for the eventual deployment of up to 2,500 Marines on rotational missions in Darwin. These numbers are not big in themselves. What is big is the strategic intention behind them. At one go, America has inserted itself in the swiftly-changing scenario in the Indo-Pacific theater created by the military rise of China and manifested in its assertiveness in the South China Sea.

Are the TPP and the coming Darwin deployment attempts to exclude, encircle and contain China? They do not have to be.

China, the world’s second largest economy, is welcome to join the TPP and make it the apex FTA of the future. In the process, Beijing would become enmeshed in the emerging economic architecture of the Indo-Pacific. True, this would mean concessions on its part and agreement to play by the rules of TPP, but then the same rules would bind the other players as well, all of whom would have to make concessions. This is not containment, unless Beijing decides to see it that way.

As for the Darwin deployment, it is an American signal to the Chinese to moderate their naval assertiveness. China’s military build-up leaves no one in any doubt of its desire to protect its national interests in the Taiwan Strait. China seeks to be in a position to deal effectively with the eventuality of American (or other) intervention should Taiwan declare independence and seek foreign help.

But the South China Sea is another matter: It is contested maritime territory. For Beijing to elevate it to a “core interest,” on par with Taiwan’s and Tibet’s place in China’s territorial integrity, cannot but make the other claimants look for support from another great power. America provided diplomatic support to Southeast Asian countries worried about China, particularly Vietnam and the Philippines, by reasserting Washington’s commitment to freedom of navigation in the international waterways.

The Darwin deployment reinforces Washington’s military resolve not to let Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea carry the day by default. It is now up to China to recalculate its options. This is not containment — unless Beijing chooses to see it that way.

Indonesia has not been vocal on these game-changing events and developments, but it has a role to play in them for obvious reasons. Even before American strategic thinking recognized Indonesia’s position as a pivotal power in the Indo-Pacific, geography had assigned it that role.

The Indonesian archipelago forms a crossroad between the Indian and the Pacific oceans, and it is a bridge between the continents of Asia and Australia. Indonesia is the largest archipelago in the world to form a single state and Southeast Asia’s largest country. With a GDP of more than $700 billion, its economy is the biggest in Southeast Asia and has won it membership of the Group of 20.

Whether Indonesia wishes to join the TPP will depend on a calculus of costs and benefits that must take into account the fact that, for all the nation’s achievements, it remains a developing country. At the moment, what is crucial is that Indonesia contributes to the viability of the Asean Economic Community, whether or not that vision is achieved by 2015.

On the strategic front, Indonesia is not, and will not be, a part of any attempt to contain China. At the same time, however, Indonesia cannot have its options constrained in dealing with the United States, Japan, India or any other country.

This is true not only of Indonesia but of Asean in general. No country in Asean wants to be forced by either the United States or China to choose between the two. Indonesia, as Southeast Asia’s pivotal country, must continue to pursue a free and independent foreign policy that welcomes extra-regional powers without becoming a part of any exclusive agenda they might have.

All in all, these are interesting times in which Indonesia must remain relevant. Or should I say that these are pivotal times?

Anindya Novyan Bakrie is chairman of VIVA Media Group, chief executive of Bakrie Telecom, vice chairman of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin), and a presidentially-appointed representative for the APEC Business Advisory Council.

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West wary of Burma investment

Western companies are still thinking twice about investing in Burma despite recent political reforms, leaving the way clear to Indian, Thai and Malaysian companies to invest in the South East Asian nation.

Andrew Hobbs 24 November 2011 09:02 GMT

Burma, also known as Myanmar, closed its biggest oil and gas exploration tender in years in August, a few months after it cautiously started political reforms, and the government is now processing the bids, Reuters reported.

Industry sources in Burma told Reuters the tender had attracted about 50 bids, with regional companies said to be the main contenders.

So far only Thailand’s PTT Exploration and India’s ONGC Videsh have publicly expressed interest in this tender, with ONGC saying it is evaluating data, Reuters reported.

US companies are barred from new investments in Myanmar under government-ordered sanctions and Chinese oil companies were lukewarm to the bidding for 18 onshore oil and gas prospects, due to concerns over the blocks’ prospects, Reuters reported.

Coupled with this, bilateral ties between Burma and China have been strained since September, after Rangoon shelved a China-backed dam in the north of the country.

CNOOC said it had not put in a bid, while no comment was received from Sinopec or China National Petroleum Corporation, Reuters reported.

Facts Global Energy consultant HS Yen said Burma could have received only one expression of interest from Europe.

“They probably have attracted as much as 50 bids, but each field may have been counted as a separate bid, so the number of individual companies bidding are very likely much lower than 50,” Yen said.

“I certainly don’t see a major company that isn’t already present in the country venturing into Myanmar given the risks of doing business there and the small reserves size.”

Total, which leads the $1 billion Yadana gas project in Burmese waters in the Andaman Sea, had not taken part in the tender, a company spokeswoman said.

Total chief executive Christophe de Margerie last month said his company would like to play a bigger role in Burma but first wanted to see concrete signs of increased democratisation.

“We decided that … it was important to be in Myanmar but that we will not invest until things are getting better … I do hope that will happen,” he said.

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U.S.-China tensions risk spilling over into Asia summit

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By Caren Bohan and Laura MacInnis
NUSA DUA, Indonesia | Fri Nov 18, 2011 6:12am IST

(Reuters) – Tensions between the United States and China threaten to spill over into meetings of Asia-Pacific leaders from Friday, with U.S. President Barack Obama declaring his intention on the eve of the gathering to assert U.S. influence in the region.

Obama said in Australia on Thursday, on his last stop before jetting to the meetings in neighboring Indonesia, that the U.S. military would expand its Asia-Pacific role despite budget cuts, declaring America was “here to stay” as a Pacific power.

And days earlier, as host of the Asia Pacific Economic Co-Operation forum in Hawaii, Obama had voiced growing frustration at China’s trade practices and pushed for a new Asia-Pacific trade deal with some of Beijing’s neighbors.

The Indonesia meetings, on the resort island of Bali, bring together the 10-member Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and eight dialogue partners, including the United States, China, Russia and Japan. Bilateral meetings are held on Friday before a full East Asia summit on Saturday.

Earlier this week, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged claimants to the South China Sea not to resort to intimidation to push their cause in the potentially rich waters, an indirect reference to China ahead of the Bali summit.

China and several ASEAN countries have clashed over sovereignty of the waters, believed to be rich in natural resources and straddling vital trade lanes.

Clinton called for candid discussion of the maritime dispute at the summit, which could embolden some Southeast Asian countries with maritime claims, though China says it does not want such talks to take place and that the issue should be resolved via bilateral negotiations.

“Introducing a contentious subject into the meeting would only affect the atmosphere of cooperation and mutual trust, damaging the hard-won setting of healthy development in the region,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said on Wednesday. “That’s is beyond any doubt.”

Obama has declared that U.S. engagement in the Asia-Pacific region was “absolutely critical”, feeding China’s longstanding fears of being encircled by the United States and its allies.

“As we end today’s wars, I have directed my national security team to make our presence and missions in the Asia Pacific a top priority,” Obama said on Thursday in a major speech on Washington’s vision for the Asia-Pacific region.

“As a result, reductions in U.S. defence spending will not — I repeat, will not — come at the expense of the Asia Pacific.”

Nervous about China’s growing clout, U.S. allies such as Japan and South Korea have sought assurances from the United States that it would be a strong counterweight in the region.

A first step in extending the U.S. military reach into Southeast Asia will see U.S. Marines, naval ships and aircraft deployed to northern Australia from 2012.

That deployment to Australia, which by 2016 will reach a taskforce of 2,500 U.S. troops, is small compared with the 28,000 troops stationed in South Korea and 50,000 in Japan.

But the presence in Darwin, only 820 km (500 miles) from Indonesia, will allow the United States to quickly reach into Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean.

Obama acknowledged China’s unease at what it sees as attempts by Washington to encircle it, pledging to seek greater cooperation with Beijing.

He added: “We’ll seek more opportunities for cooperation with Beijing, including greater communication between our militaries to promote understanding and avoid miscalculation.”

The new de facto U.S. base in Australia expands the direct U.S. military presence in Asia beyond South Korea and Japan and into Southeast Asia, an area where China has growing economic and strategic interests.

It will also put more U.S. troops, ships and aircraft much closer to the South China Sea.

CHINA QUESTIONS U.S. DEPLOYMENT TO AUSTRALIA

China has questioned the new U.S. deployment, with a foreign ministry spokesman raising doubts about whether strengthening such alliances helped the region pull together at a time of economic gloom.

But overall its official reaction has been restrained, with an impending leadership succession preoccupying the ruling Communist Party and leaving Beijing anxious to avoid diplomatic fireworks.

Reaction from some state media was harsher.

“It wouldn’t come as a surprise if the United States is trying to seek hegemony in the region, which would be in line with its aspirations as a global superpower,” China’s state news agency Xinhua said in a commentary.

Obama said the increased focus on the Asia-Pacific region was essential for America’s economic future.

“As the world’s fastest-growing region – and home to more than half the global economy – the Asia Pacific is critical to achieving my highest priority: creating jobs and opportunity for the American people,” he said.

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ASEAN gambles on Myanmar’s regional leadership

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By Ben Blanchard
NUSA DUA, Indonesia

(Reuters) – Southeast Asian nations endorsed Myanmar Thursday for the chairmanship of a key regional grouping, gambling that the isolated country can stick to reforms begun this year that could lead it out of half a century of isolation.

But U.S. President Barack Obama cautioned that Myanmar, also known as Burma, must still demonstrate improvements in human rights in his first remarks since the authoritarian regime freed hundreds of political prisoners in October and vowed more reforms in the weeks ahead.

“Some political prisoners have been released. The government has begun a dialogue. Still, violations of human rights persist,” Obama said in a speech to the Australian parliament

ahead of joining Asian leaders in Bali for an East Asia Summit.

“So we will continue to speak clearly about the steps that must be taken for the government of Burma to have a better relationship with the United States.”

The United States has said that freeing political prisoners is one of several preconditions to lifting sanctions that have isolated Myanmar and driven it closer to China. Other conditions include peace with restive ethnic groups after years of unrest.

But Southeast Asia has moved quickly to embrace change in the resource-rich former British colony, whose strategic location between rising powers India and China, and vast, untapped natural-gas resources, have drawn investor interest.

The 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) — of which Myanmar is a member — formally gave Myanmar the chairmanship of the Southeast Asian regional bloc in 2014, two years ahead of schedule, said Myanmar government officials at an ASEAN summit on the Indonesian resort island of Bali.

“Be assured that we are now growing into a democratic society and we will do all our responsibilities and duties as a responsible government, reflecting the desires of the Myanmar people,” Ko Ko Hlaing, chief political adviser to the Myanmar president, told reporters.

“We will do what we have to do as a democratic government and a democratic society,” he said. “As a family, ASEAN nations have welcomed Myanmar to be a responsible chairman.”

U Sit Aye, a senior Myanmar presidential legal advisor, said more reforms were in store.

“It is . a continuing process,” he said, adding that ASEAN leaders had formally backed Myanmar’s chairmanship at a closed-door meeting in Bali.

Countries across Southeast Asia welcomed the chairmanship as a critical milestone after years frustration over Myanmar’s isolation as the region approaches a European Union-style Asian community in 2015.

“We believe that with the positive improvements in Myanmar right now, this has shown that Myanmar would like to come back to the democratic way,” Thai Foreign Minister Surapong Towijakchaiku told reporters on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit in Bali.

“MOMENTUM FOR REFORMS”

Recent overtures by Myanmar’s government have included calls for peace with ethnic minority groups, some tolerance of criticism, the suspension of an unpopular Chinese-funded dam project and the legalization of labor unions.

President Thein Sein has also reached out to democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was freed last year from 15 years of house arrest. Her National League for Democracy (NLD) is expected to decide on Friday whether to re-register as a political party to contest imminent by-elections.

An official in Suu Kyi’s party said Myanmar’s expected ASEAN chairmanship would help to drive more political change.

“Their decision is tantamount to encouraging the present Myanmar government to step up the momentum for reforms,” Nyan Win, a senior NLD official, told Reuters. “Myanmar’s political activities will become more vibrant after assuming the chair.”

Indeed, Indonesia’s foreign minister, Marty Natalegawa, said the chairmanship would likely open Myanmar further. “I am quite convinced this will have a huge multiplier effect.”

“REAL CHANGES”

The United States has had strained relations with Myanmar since the former military junta, which took power in a 1962 coup, killed thousands in a crackdown in 1988. The junta was replaced by a military-dominated civilian government in March after the first elections in two decades last year.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said last Friday that Myanmar appeared to be making some “real changes” to its political system but needs to pursue more reform.

Myanmar’s government has responded by urging the United States to lift sanctions, describing its reforms as genuine.

The country, as big as France and Britain combined, is developing ports on the Indian Ocean and Andaman Sea that, if combined with proposed rail and pipeline projects, would allow cargo ships to bypass the Straits of Malacca.

That would open the way for faster delivery of oil from the Middle East and Africa to China and other countries in the region straddling the Mekong River.

India, Japan and Southeast Asia have sought to ramp up engagement, largely to counterbalance China’s influence and to gain a toehold in a country whose proven gas reserves have tripled in the past decade to around 800 billion cubic meters, equivalent to more than a quarter of Australia’s, BP Statistical Review figures show.

(Additional reporting by Michael Perry, James Grubel and Caren Bohan in Canberra and Aung Hla Tun in Yangon; writing by Jason Szep; editing by Neil Fullick.)

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