OILFIELDS OF BURMA.
HE productivity of the oilfields of Burma is immense, and constitutes one of the countryas most valuable assets. From the middle of the eighteenth century the oilfields have been worked but it is only since 1889 that modern appliances have been introduced and the industry conducted as a commercial venture. With a steadily increasing local and foreign demand, the production has increased in a corresponding measure. In 1900 the output was 4,641,308 gallons, and in three years it increased to over 10,000,000 gallons.
The richest oil-bearing tract of Burma lies in the valley of the Irrawaddy, in the southern portion of the dry zone of the upper province. The three principal centres are at Yenangyaung, in the Magwe District ; Singu, in the Myingyan District, and Yenangyat in the Pakokku District.
The discovery of the Yenangyaung fields has been ascribed to some prisoners who, a few centuries ago, were brought by a warlike King of Burma from one of his raids along the coast of Arakan, and left by him to care for the shrine, now known as Bayin Paya, which he erected to record his exploits and gain merit. While exploring the surrounding hills, these pagoda slaves found oil oozing out of the banks of the deepest nullahs, and they reasoned that if this commodity was worth gathering up labour might be profitably employed to increase the yield by digging pits. In this they proved correct, and they obtained from the Burmese king of that day a monopoly of the right to extract oil, and the hereditary title to grants of so many sites a year. These operatives were called Tvvinzah Ayas, and they were at liberty to work or sell their grants as they pleased. Altogether, there are now over three thousand of these plots, and depths, far below the old workings, which have been penetrated by modern methods, have produced more and more fruitful results.
All the oil found in the province, so far, has lain in the Tertiary series of geological formations, and appears to be confined to the Miocene divisions about midway between the newer and earliest division of this series.
In extent and richness of product the Yenangyaung fields rank with any in the world. The geological conditions are almost ideal, and shaped like an elongated dome, the field is a broad, regular, anticlival one.
Extensive faults or breaks in the formation have been uncommon ; there has been no chance for the oil to escape, so that there is here stored the accumulation of ages from hundreds of square miles of surrounding rocks where the oil had its origin. The average daily output of the Yenangyaung field is about 15,000 viss (a viss equals 3*65 lbs.).
At the newer fields at Yenangyat and Singu oil is being produced in constantly
increasing quantities. The Yenangyat field is a typical example of another sort of anticlival. It is miles long, with the rocks sloping very steep on one side and gradually 011 the other. Being very narrow the field is not so rich, as the soil has a chance to distribute itself along the entire ridge of the anticlinal, and has not been forced to centralise itself from all directions as at Yenangyaung.
The Singu field is a sort of combination of the formation of Yenangyaung and Yenangyat. Oil was first struck at Singu by the Burma Oil Company, on October 30,
1901, and since that date the output has been steadily increasing. The oil produced from these wells has an extraordinarily low flashing point (below 40A F.), while the specific gravity of the oil is 0*8247. At the present time nine companies are engaged
OIL SPRING- AT MINBU.OIL SPRING- AT MINBU.