Monday, September 25, 2017

Controversial pipeline now fully operational

The controversial pipeline carrying Myanmar gas to China officially reached full pumping capacity last week, the pipeline management company announced on October 24.

An engineer inspects a section of the controversial dual pipeline that will transport gas and crude oil to China. Photo: StaffAn engineer inspects a section of the controversial dual pipeline that will transport gas and crude oil to China. Photo: Staff

A spokesperson for the Southeast Asia Crude Oil Pipeline (SEAOP) and Southeast Asia Gas Pipeline (SEAGP) said the 2000-kilometre pipeline was now fully operational, as of October 20. The Myanmar section of the line is 793km long.

Referring to reports from Rakhine State residents of leaks or damage to the line, the spokesperson said, “We have already inspected all parts of the pipeline area and found nothing wrong. It’s now in full operation from the starting point at Kyaukpyu to the station on the Chinese side.”

The line is designed to carry 12 billion cubic metres of natural gas a year, of which up to 5.2 billion cubic metres of gas a year can be carried in the first phase.

The pipeline extends across Rakhine State and Magwe and Mandalay regions, through northern Shan State to Muse on the Chinese border, with unloading points at Kyaukpyu in Rakhine State, Yenangyaung in Magwe and Thaungtha in Mandalay. Myanmar will receive 2.5 billion cubic metres of gas a year from the deal, which will bring in an annual income of US$30 billion over the next 30 years. However the

pipelines have sparked protests over environmental and safety concerns, and inadequate compensation arrangements for local residents. Critics have also said the contract, which was signed under the military regime, should be revisited and that Myanmar should not be exporting gas when three-quarters of the population lack electricity.

“Some of the local people have yet to receive compensation,” said U Khon Jar, a coordinator from the Kachin Peace Network.

“We can’t stop the pipeline, but at least we get 100 million cubic feet [2.8 cubic meteres] of natural gas a day so we can hope for a better electricity supply. But there are still questions about regional development, especially in view of the economic conditions of the people who live near the pipeline area,” said U Tun Ken, chief executive officer of Parami Energy Group of Companies.

Daewoo announced the discovery of the Shwe gas field off the coast of Rakhine in 2004. The government awarded purchasing rights to China in 2008 under an agreement to export 6.5 trillion cubic feet (184 billion cubic metres) over 30 years. The SEAGP/SEAOP, a group of energy companies from China, Korea, India and MOGE (Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise) operates the line.