Myanmar to boost energy investment as power outages bite

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Myanmar to boost energy investment as power outages bite

Myanmar's junta government plans to increase investment in the energy sector, in order to shore up the supply of power, as the country struggles with long daily blackouts, according to its information minister on Thursday April 21. The outages have compounded economic woes faced by ordinary citizens still reeling from the turmoil that has resulted from the military seized power last year.

The Minister for Information Maung Maung Ohn blamed the outages on rising natural gas prices due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict and on what he called terrorist action linked to the People's Defence Force, a group backed by an underground government set up to rival the junta.

He repeated his denials of a fuel shortage. Long queues of motorists were seen at petrol stations earlier this week, but have since mostly subsided.

Rumours of a shortage on social media are misinformation, he said, adding that Myanmar had 45 million gallons of petrol and 70 million gallons of diesel in stock.

Maung Maung Ohn said the government's energy investments will focus on repairing infrastructure and on renewable energy and natural gas.

Myanmar has begun a series of solar projects with a combined capacity of 390 megawatts and announced tenders for another 18 with a combined capacity of 635 MW. A 1,390 megawatt LNG-power plant, built with three Chinese companies, is scheduled to start operations in 2027.

Investment Minister Aung Naing Oo told the same conference that the operation of Myanmar's largest gas field, the Yadana, has not been affected by the withdrawal of TotalEnergies SE.

The government has not received formal notification, but Chevron Corp has said it will exit, he added.

He noted that the field's output has declined since 2021. The oil majors pulled out of the country citing the humanitarian situation.

Thailand's PTT Exploration and Production Pcl plans to take over the field's operations in July. Aung Naing Oo said the parent firm PTT Pcl and other companies that operate in a special economic zone are exempt from a central bank order that requires foreign exchange deposits to be converted to local currency.