News / Asia

Burma's Power Sector Balancing International, Domestic Demand

A woman, top left, stands at a balcony of her apartment near a lamp post jumbled with electric cables in Rangoon, Burma, Jan. 27, 2014.
A woman, top left, stands at a balcony of her apartment near a lamp post jumbled with electric cables in Rangoon, Burma, Jan. 27, 2014.
Gabrielle Paluch
Burma's rich natural resources include oil and gas in abundance, in largely unexplored blocks.  As those blocks are drilled, the government faces questions about revenue transparency, and how to balance building a domestic power market with exports.

Minister of Energy Zaya Aung postponed the anticipated announcement of the winners of the offshore gas exploration bidding at an oil and gas conference in Rangoon this week, but assured reporters that revenue from oil and gas sales would be publicly reported in the national budget.

"It is very easy because all of the budgets incoming from the oil and gas sector it goes to our country's budget," he said.

In the past, international rights groups have accused members of the government of depositing revenue from large energy projects and natural resource sales in private offshore bank accounts.

As the country's final remaining unexplored reserves are being allocated,  Burma, also known as Myanmar, is preparing to become a member of EITI, an international extractive industries transparency watchdog group.

According to the ministry of energy in 2012, Burma has over 25 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves, mostly offshore, and 2.1 billion barrels of oil reserves, most of it in completely unexplored fields. These figures are unconfirmed, and largely disputed. British Petroleum's annual 2013 annual statistical review of the world's energy puts Burma's gas reserves at just 0.2 trillion cubic feet.

Burma suffers from power shortages despite its natural resources, and over three quarters of Burma's electricity for the domestic market is generated through hydropower.

The Burmese government plans to get 80 percent of households in the country on the power grid by 2030, according to a 2013 electrification plan put together with the Japanese government's development agency.  Burma's current electrification rate is below 30 perecent, one of the lowest in Asia.  Power demand is expected to double in the next fifteen years, according to the ministry of energy.

Minister Zaya Aung told reporters they would continue to require 20 percent of gas from both onshore and offshore blocks remain for use in the domestic market.

John Roberts, a specialist in the energy sector and securities consultant said it was likely the government would be able to be transparent with its reporting of oil and gas income, though he said it was not uncommon for oil and gas companies to provide members of government with a way to accumulate funds to which they were not entitled.

He said, however, that the government faced a greater challenge in maintaining accountability and political stability as it balanced the export market with increasing domestic demand.

"In the case of Myanmar the key issue is how much gas and oil get developed for the export market and how much do you develop it for a rapidly developing domestic market in order to make sure you don't get brownouts. The other question of course is that of regional and political stability," said Roberts.

This week, hundreds in Kanbauk, Tenasserim division in southern Burma,  gathered to protest against several large oil companies operating there, after they were angered by environmental damage and their poor electricity supply despite being so close to power generating resources.

You May Like

Elusive Deal With Iran Could Yield Foreign Policy Legacy for Obama

A new Iranian leader -- and a strategic shift by the United States -- opens narrow window for nuclear agreement with Tehran More

Column: Saudi-Iran Meeting Could Boost Fight Against Islamic State

The fact that Iranians and Saudis are talking again does not guarantee a breakthrough, but it could make it easier to build a broad coalition against IS More

Thai Ruler Gives Top Cabinet Posts to Junta Inner Circle

Thailand's army chief has kept an iron grip on power as he extends the government, hand-picking an interim parliament that subsequently nominated him prime minister More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid