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Oil shows were first reported in Laos in 1935 east of the Mekong River but no exploration was carried out until 1959 when 2 exploration permits were awarded to a French company. Very little activity occurred and the company pulled out in 1960.
In 1974 exploration was restarted but ceased when the communists took over. In 1989 the country began negotiating contracts based on its foreign investment laws and Enterprise Oil signed up the Savannakhet PSC to the east of the Mekong river in 1989. In 1990 Hunt Oil Company signed the Pakse PSC and in 1991 Monument Oil & Gas signed the Vientiane PSC.
Drilling began in 1996 when Hunt spudded the dry Pakse-1 well, the first in the country, but the PSC was relinquished in 1997. Enterprise withdrew in 1998, followed by Monument in the same year after it had drilled the dry Naxay-1 well.
In 2007 Salamander re-signed the Savannakhet PSC and spudded the Bang Nouan-1 exploration well targeting gas in Permian limestones of the Pha Nok Khao formation in the eastern Khorat basin. A total of 2600 kms of 2D seismic data had been acquired over the prospect area and the well was declared a discovery although only gas shows are now reported. Oil seeps and bitumen staining have been seen to the east and north of this well.
Although there may be gas potential in the Khorat, Globalshift does not forecast Laos to achieve any commercial oil or gas production in the short or medium term.
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