Published on Sunday, 30 December 2012 12:42
The Shwe Gas project and pipeline construction in western Myanmar will continue, the government said, although many people are demanding its temporary suspension for not having properly assessed the environmental and social impacts of the project.
Project manager Cheng Huan Lai said that it may be able to start the export of natural gas from the project in Rakhine state to China latest by May 30, 2013, and oil by September 30, through two Myanmar-China pipelines of about 800km length. Pipeline constructions will be complete before the May 2013 deadline.
The joint venture project between China National Petroleum Corporation and the Myanmar Ministry of Oil and Gas Enterprise has allegedly damaged the environmental and social lives of indigenous people, as well as the ecology of the area.
Win Aung of Shwe Gas Movement, which is demanding suspension of the project, said that it had caused mass forcible relocation of the locals, and some of those whose farms and lands had been confiscated had not received compensations. He also pointed out that not implementing the environmental and social impact assessments (EIA/SIA) have caused losses to the country.
Earlier, locals and activist civil organisations called on the Ministry of Energy to ensure transparency over the project’s financial figures, and urged reconsideration of the compensation amount for land confiscated (0.0128 per cent of total cost has been reportedly budgeted for it), according to activist Tun Tun Naing of Kyaunkpyu Network, Myanmar-China Pipelines Watch Committee.
He said that they had also demanded disclosure of the name of the Thailand company which is reportedly undertaking EIA/SIA of the project, to publicise the reports, and inform the people of possible hazards they may experience.
The authorities, on the other side, highlighted the positives of the project.
Than Htay, Minister for Energy, said the project would daily yield 100 million cubic feet of natural gas and 2 million tonnes of crude oil for local consumption.
He added that the country will also gain the pipeline transit fee US$13.81 million per year for 30 years and oil transit fee of US$1 per tonne of export crude oil for 22 million tonnes a year.
Shwe Gas Project was started in August 2007, and Myanmar signed a memorandum of understanding for sale of gas to China in June 2008.
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