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Mizzima Business Weekly - - BUSINESS // NEWS - Gor­don Brown

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 info@buim­group.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.

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