By D’Jay Lazaro
A regional energy network based in Manila today warned that increasing investment in Myanmar’s oil and gas sector will only cause the country more harm than good.
OilWatch Southeast Asia issued the warning in a statement to coincide with the start of a two-day “Oil, Gas and Power Summit” in Yangon organised by the Ministry of Energy and Centre for Management Technology for international corporations interested in investing.
It is the first major oil industry gathering in the country since its transition to a civilian government last year. The meeting comes days before crucial parliamentary by-elections in which opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is contesting a seat.
“Investment in Myanmar’s oil and gas sector is not benefiting the people of Myanmar nor the country’s sustainable economic development,” said Clemente Bautista Jr, coordinator of OilWatch South East Asia, in the statement.
He said as long as democracy is lacking in Myanmar foreign investment in oil and gas will only increase corruption.
Arakan OilWatch, a non-government group in Myanmar, released a report last week detailing an alleged lack of transparency in the country’s oil and gas industry.
Myanmar exports 1,000 million cubic feet of natural gas per day and plans to export a further 640 million cubic feet per day to China and Thailand.
The exports amounted to around US$3 billion in sales revenue over the 2011-2012 fiscal year.
Bautista, however, said despite Myanmar’s resource wealth, gas revenue over the last decade have disappeared under an allegedly corrupt military leadership.
“Oil and gas and natural resource extraction in Myanmar have directly led to human rights abuses as well as severe environmental degradation,” said Jockai Khiang of Arakan OilWatch.