Keeping up on trends and upcoming events
Fossil Fuel-Free Energy Conference to Power Myanmar’s Growth
Yangon will host a two-day conference on green energy in a bid to attract investment in electricity generation without the use of fossil fuels.
Hosted by Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce & Industry, the Myanmar Green Energy Summit hopes to attract representatives from 25 countries to the August 17-18 event at the Sule Shangri-la Hotel.
Most parts of Myanmar are far off the national grid with no legacy of fossil power generation. Flexible, decentralized community-based renewable energy systems like solar and micro-hydro are therefore the best way to power the countryside, Myanmar Business Today said quoting the federation.
Myanmar is likely to be a target country in plans by Thailand’s oil refiner Bangchak Petroleum to invest in renewable energy projects abroad.
A five-year development plan for renewable energy will see Bangchak investing over US$700 million in the sector.
The part-state-owned firm said it is already negotiating to buy into a geothermal power project in Indonesia as well as more solar power projects in Japan. An agreement on the unnamed Indonesian project is expected to be completed in the second half of this year, company president Chaiwat Kovasisarach said on June 4.
Through its Greenergy Capital subsidiary Bangchak said it intends to develop or acquire a portfolio of 500 megawatts of renewable electricity generating capacity by 2019 as it seeks to reduce dependency on oil-linked business.
Bangchak said it was seeking to develop Thailand’s first geothermal power plant in northern Tak Province near the Myanmar border.
Forum to Promote Much-Needed Oil and Gas Offshore Services
Myanmar will host a regional forum to promote the service industry for offshore oil and gas development.
The forum, planned for Yangon in September, is being organised by Shanghai based conference specialists BuiM Group, backed by the Ministry of Energy.
The director general of the ministry energy planning department, Pe Zin Tun, said in a promotional notice that Myanmar needed more support services to back the country’s “lucrative” petroleum sector.
The ministry and Myanmar Oil & Gas Enterprise recently concluded the terms of contracts with mostly foreign firms for the exploration of 30 offshore blocks in the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea.
More than half of these blocks are in deep water and oil and gas explorers will need specialist equipment services.
More information on the forum, scheduled for September 10-12, is available at email@example.com.
Reform ‘Paralysis’ Threatens to Derail Investment, Risk Assessor Warns
Myanmar’s entire reform process could be heading for “complete paralysis,” a business risk assessment report said.
The country’s political reforms have lagged far behind economic improvements which have “largely met expectations,” Business Monitor International says in its June Southeast Asia bulletin.
However, there is a danger of national elections scheduled for this coming November being delayed by domestic political tensions and this could upset foreign investment.
The assessment came as opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi made a first-ever visit to China for surprise meetings with top leaders, including President Xi Jinping.
The decision by Xi to meet Suu Kyi shows that Beijing is reassessing its position with the Myanmar military-led leadership, Bloomberg said on June 10. “China is adapting to the new political environment within its old ally,” the business news agency quoted Fan Hongwei, a Myanmar specialist at China’s Xiamen University. “China has a lot of geopolitical and business interests in the country, and it’s diversifying its approach to safeguard those interests,” Fan said.
Relations between Nay Pyi Taw and Beijing have been strained since President Thein Sein ordered the suspension of development of the US$3.6 billion Myitsone hydroelectric dam primarily to supply power to China’s Yunnan Province.
Arrival of the ‘Petroyuan’ could impinge on Myanmar-China Gas Sales
Virtually all international payments for crude oil and gas are paid in so-called Petrodollars, acknowledging the influence of the US dollar. But the switch to the yuan by Gazprom could be the start of the internationalisation of the Chinese currency, the official China Daily said. China trades in gas and oil with Myanmar. “Russian companies’ crude exports were largely settled in dollars until last summer, when the United States and Europe imposed sanctions on the Russian energy sector over the Ukraine crisis,” China Daily said on June 4. “The change in currency was necessitated due to the sanctions.”
The US online financial newspaper Zero Hedge on June 9 described the Gazprom decision as “the birth of the Petroyuan” and also said Western sanctions against Russia would spur more Russian companies to use the Chinese currency.
The Gazprom oil for yuan trade affects all the crude it ships via its East Siberia Pacific Ocean pipeline. In the first quarter of this year that amounted to about 600,000 tonnes, said Zero Hedge.
Stay Longer, Spend More is New Message for Tourists Visiting Myanmar
Despite a surge in foreign visitors to Myanmar in the last two years the tourism industry does not want to pursue “profitless volume,” a senior marketing manager said.
The primary objective is to attract high-spending tourists, Myanmar Tourism Marketing’s manager Tin New Wynt told regional industry newspaper TTR Weekly.
“Our tourism growth will not be based on ‘profitless volume’ instead Myanmar will seek visitors who appreciate a cultural experience, stay longer and spend more in the country,” she said on a side lines of a Bangkok industry forum.
Thailand and China are the top two sources of visitors to Myanmar, with more than 198,000 Thai visits in 2014 and 125,000 Chinese, TTR Weekly said. Japan provided the third-highest number of tourists at just over 83,000.
The birth of the “Petroyuan” has been forecast following a decision by one of Russia’s main oil producers, Gazprom Neft, to deal in Chinese yuan in sales to China.