03/09/2013, 00.00
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Naypyidaw: oil and gas auction to attract foreign investment

In April, more than 20 production blocks off the coast will be sold to the highest bidder. The Burmese government intends to attract capital from abroad, but also must deal with their own needs. With the old military contracts, about 80% of the production ended up abroad. Aung San Suu Kyi: economic reforms in tandem with the confidence of investors.

Yangon (AsiaNews / Agencies) - This April, the Burmese government will auction off exploration rites for more than 20 regional blocks containing oil and natural gas, which are embedded in the sea off the coast. The government hopes to accelerate foreign investment in Myanmar and rely on the help of experts, to overcome the "chronic energy deficit" caused by the policies of the military junta in power until March 2011. Meanwhile, opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi notes that "confidence" of investors is essential to promote "all economic reform." "No potential investor - added the Nobel Laureate - is willing to do business, if he lacks confidence in the [political life of] country."

According to the Burmese Investment Commission, in the first nine months of the fiscal year 2012/2013, Myanmar received nearly 800 million dollars in foreign investment, but its energy sources are its biggest attraction. In addition, foreign companies seem more interested in offshore fields, because they retain "greater potential" than those on the mainland.

Myanmar produces more natural gas than necessary to meet domestic demand. However, based on contracts signed in the past by the military, the nation exports about 80% of the product, approximately 1.2000000000 to 1.4000000000 cubic meters, to neighboring Thailand. For June, the start of operations of the pipeline headed for China, which is expected to pump another 400 million cubic meters daily is also planned - even if the date is likely to slip given the ethnic conflict in Burma's Kachin State.

The current agreements that are still in force have lead to heavy deficit in domestic needs with Myanmar only accessing half of the gas needed to meet the overall energy consumption. It reflects the "drama" of a nation that seeks to open up to the future and the international community, but confined to patterns, dynamics, and agreements entered into by a bloody and corrupt military junta. The government wants to renegotiate these contracts, for internal purposes, without frustrating foreign investors.


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