Burma needs capital to develop energy sector: report

Burma: limited capital has hindered oil and gas development in the country

Burma has a wealth of possibilities for power generation but lacks the capital required to develop it, according to an initial assessment of the country’s energy sector by a major Asian finance institution.

Philippines-based Asian Development Bank (ADB) said on Tuesday that Burma, also known as Myanmar, had huge potential energy resources, particularly natural gas, but development had been held back by limited funding, as well as poor legal and regulatory frameworks and a lack of qualified personnel and planning among several energy-related ministries.

“Myanmar’s energy sector has suffered from decades of under-investment, and only one in four people currently have electricity access,” ADB Southeast Asia’s director of the energy division, Anthony Jude, said in a statement.

“As Myanmar continues to open up there is a remarkable opportunity to utilise domestic energy resources to power the country’s development, but it’s essential that strong, enforceable environmental and social safeguards be firmly in place,” he said.

ADB’s report suggested that the country could harness an abundance of energy options, including oil and gas exploration and the utilisation of hydropower, geothermal and other renewable energy sources, through international investment focussing on medium and long-term planning.

It also recommended the need for investment in the construction of gas power plants in Yangon, and the rehabilitation and upgrading of 10 gas and one coal-fired generation plants, refineries and natural gas pipelines throughout Burma.

Rehabilitation works in power generation, transmission and distribution, the construction of a 500kV transmission line from northern Burma to Yangon, and an integrated, comprehensive plan for hydropower development were other investment possibilities proposed in the report.

According to ADB, Burma is one of five major energy exporters in natural gas in the South East Asian region, with offshore gas being the country’s most important source of export revenues.

Burma currently has the lowest per capita electricity consumption in Asia with about two-thirds of its energy primarily deriving from fuelwood, charcoal, agricultural residue and animal waste.

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