Myanmar energy of top concern

Gas PipelineMyanmar may have skyrocketed in international popularity, but as a machine the country is still running on near empty.

Access to dependable supplies of electricity is listed by domestic and foreign businesses in Myanmar as the greatest hurdle the country faces, trumping other challenges such as an independent judiciary, property rights, corruption and availability of human capital. According to a joint report with the Asian Development Bank (ADB), failure to diversify the fuel mix and implement energy reforms could be a major stumbling block for the Asian tiger hopeful.

On September 3-4, the Myanmar Energy Investment Summit 2013 will gather together key Myanmar ministries and foreign investors to highlight how both sides can cooperate to face the mounting energy demand forecast for the now open economy. The event, held at the Traders Hotel in Yangon, is being supported by the Minister of Energy and Power Mr U Khin Mg Soe and the Director of Hydropower Mr Maw Thar Htwe.

With a special focus on hydropower, the largest source of energy in the country, the event aims to cover investment opportunities available in the primary energy supply, including coal, natural gas, oil, hydro and biomass.

According to Myanmar government surveys, the four main rivers of the country could be harnessed for a potential of 100 gigawatts in hydropower, less than 10 per cent of which is currently being tapped. This available energy supply is equivalent with that of Indonesia, the largest economy, speaking volumes for Myanmar’s capacity to fuel its growth.

Myanmar is identifying ways to exploit these resources in a push to match forecasted rise in energy demand as the country opens up to foreign investment and increased economic activity.

The two largest proposed dams in ASEAN are located in Myanmar: the 7,110-megawatt Tasang dam and the 3,600-megawatt Myistone dam. However, controversy over the displacement of indigenous people has forced the incumbent government to put both the mega projects on stand-by.

Among the high-level attendees of the event will be representatives from the ADB, the World Bank, IFC and other international investment bodies. EDF, the developer of Laos’ largest dam, will also participate, lending their experience with hydropower in the region. DFDL, a law firm, will address “hydropower legal challenges in cross-border energy sales,” as well as “current legal issues and experiences in Myanmar’s oil and gas sector.”