NAYPYIDAW: Myanmar's military junta is selling Rakhine's natural gas to China and it has sold over USD 1.43 billion worth of it in 2022, reported Burma News International (BNI).
Vast oil and gas profits continue flowing to and propping up Myanmar's military junta since its bloody crackdown on nationwide resistance to the February 2021 coup, opposition and rights groups say.
Even though that Rakhine's natural resources are exported to China for billions every year by successive Myanmar governments, Rakhine state is the second poorest state in Myanmar and has one of the highest unemployment rates, reported BNI.
The Junta exported and sold billions worth of natural gas from Rakhine to China in 2022. BETV Business News cited a statement from a Chinese customs department about the gas produced by the Shwe natural gas project in Rakhine offshore and sold to China through the Myanmar-China natural gas pipeline.
The Myanmar-China natural gas pipeline is under the responsibility of South-East Asia Gas Pipeline Company Limited (SEAGP), while the crude oil pipeline is being managed by South-East Asia Crude Oil Pipeline Company (SEAOP).
The gas pipeline, which was built at a cost of about USD 1 billion, was said to be able to distribute and transport 12 billion cubic meters of gas annually.
The natural gas produced from Rakhine offshore is sent to China's Yunnan State through the gas pipeline across Magway, Mandalay and Shan State, reported BNI.
In addition to the gas, there is also the 771-kilometer-long crude oil pipeline from Kyauk Phyu to Yunnan State built at a cost of more than USD 1.5 billion, and designed to transport 22 million tons of crude oil annually.
In the China-Myanmar gas pipeline project, Myanmar Oil and Natural Gas Enterprise (MOGE) owns 7.36 per cent of the shares, and in the oil pipeline project, it owns up to 49.1 per cent of the shares, reported BNI.
According to the report, Myanmar is among the countries that export the most gas to China and is the third largest exporter of natural gas after Turkmenistan and Russia.
For the junta, "that access to foreign currency is vital," said Ben Hardman, Myanmar policy and legal adviser for EarthRights International, a US-based pressure group that studies the country's energy sector. "If you want to purchase weapons, aviation fuel, these essential items to continue waging war against the Myanmar people, it [the junta] needs access to US dollars or international currencies," he said.
Since the coup, the United States and other Western countries have imposed repeated rounds of sanctions on Myanmar's top generals and arms brokers and some of the state-owned companies believed to be earning money for the military, reported Voice of America.
To date, though, they have left the most lucrative of those companies, the Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise, largely untouched
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