Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Daewoo led consortium to invest US$ 3 billion in Burma

by Solomon
Tuesday, 14 July 2009 21:48

New Delhi (Mizzima) - A consortium of companies led by South Korea’s Daewoo International will invest over US$ 3 billion in gas production in the West Coast of Burma.

A Daewoo International official in Seoul told Mizzima on Tuesday that the company and its partners – Korean Gas, India’s Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) and Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL) – plan to invest over US $ 3 billion for production of gas from the offshore Shwe Gas fields in Western Burma.

“We have only estimated over US$ 3 billion. Actually we have not decided yet, so I can’t say how much we are going to invest,” the official told Mizzima.

The Block A1 and A3 of the offshore Gas fields in Western Arakan State is being jointly developed by Daewoo International with 60 per cent share, ONGC with 20 per cent share, GAIL with 10 per cent and KOGAS another 10 per cent.

On June 15, the consortium including Myanmar Gas and Oil Enterprise (MOGE) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to sell gas from blocks A1 and A3 to China through the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC).

According to an ONGC report, the Shwe and Shwe Phyu fields from block A1 is estimated to have natural gas reserves of 3.83 TCF and Block A3 of Mya field has about 1.52 TCF.

Daewoo said it expects a profit of over US$ 10 billion for a contract period of 25 to 30 years. Following the project agreement with CNPC, Daewoo said the sales of gas might begin as early as 2012.

While the companies and the Burmese junta have a smooth working agreement, rights groups and activists including environmentalists have given vent to their concern over the project implementation saying it lacks proper assessment and does not incorporate the losses that will be incurred by local residents.

Wong Aung, a member of the Shwe Gas Campaign based in Thailand urged the companies including Daewoo, to reconsider their plans to continue with their business, with the current military rulers, as it will negatively impact the local people.

“They [the companies] should not only invest in oil and gas, rather they should think of investing in sectors such as education, health, electricity and transportation, which are vital for the people,” said Wong Aung.

His argument is that while extracting natural gas could constitute a positive development, under the current military rulers, Burmese people often find their rights abused when projects including gas exploration takes place in their region.

“There are no benefits for the local people. All benefits goes to the military government and the locals suffer and struggle because of the project,” he added.

He said it is sad but true that Burma’s neighbouring country including India, Thailand and China are increasingly interested in investing in Burma while largely ignoring the pleas of the people, who are supposedly the rightful owners of the natural reserves.

He said building gas pipelines have become a major concern for the local people as it brings along an increasing number of Burmese Army troops to be deployed along the project site for security.

Besides, he said often local villagers are used as porters by the military and many lands confiscated for the pipeline to pass.

“Local residents will face severe rights violations including forced labour, torture, land confiscation, and even extra-judicial killings with the increase in the number of military camps,” said Wong Aung.

The construction of the 2,380 kilometre pipeline project that will connect Arakan State with China’s Yunnan Province will begin soon.