Roundup: Foreign Firms Help Ease Myanmar’s Power Shortage, Develop SEZ

Xinhua, November 2, 2012

Five South Korean companies have recently launched a 500-megawatt (mw) gas-fired combined cycle power plant project in Thakayta township, Myanmar’s Yangon, aimed at fulfilling its power demand in summer of 2014 and supplying electricity to the Thilawa special economic zone (SEZ).

The five South Korean companies are Busan Korea Biotechnology Co, Korea Western Power Co, Hyundai Engineering and Construction Co, Hana Daetoo Securities Co and Hexa International Co..

The project is being carried out under build-operate-transfer (BOT) system according to a memorandum of understanding signed between Myanmar and the South Korean companies.

The Thilawa SEZ in Yangon’s Thilawa Port is to be partly established by three Japanese industrial and economic groups under an agreement signed with the Myanmar government in September.

Under the agreement, Japan’s Mitsuibishi Corporation, Marubeni Corporation and Sumitomo Corporation will obtain 49 percent stakes to run the 2,400-hectare Thilawa SEZ.

The Japanese side will provide financial assistance to the SEZ’ s infrastructural development such as factories and workshops and one natural-gas-fired power plant.

In addition to foreign investors, Myanmar government has also invited domestic entrepreneurs to make investment in the project through shares.

Thilawa SEZ lies between Thanlyin and Kyauktan townships in Yangon region, next to the Dawei SEZ in southern Taninthayi region.

The government had designed to enable Myanmar nationals to be able to establish a public company in partnership with foreign companies on joint-venture basis for the project.

The government also invited other foreign investors such as South Korea, China, Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia to engage in the Thilawa SEZ project.

Meanwhile, the Toyo-Thai Corporation Public Company has signed another MoU with Myanmar on conducting feasibility study for another 100-megawatt (mw) more natural-gas-fired and combined cycle power plant project to be built in Yangon’ Ahlone township.

Moreover, Myanmar authorities also plans power plant that can generate 1,000 mw from solar energy in Yangon and another 200 mw in Mandalay, the second largest city of Myanmar.

Earlier, India-based Gamesa company and Thai-based SPCG company had started engagement in exploring investment opportunities in Myanmar’s wind and solar energy industry, while Myanmar is regarded as a major wind power market with possession of higher wind speed.

Myanmar produced up to 9.71 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity in 2011-12 but the demand is still not met.

Under such status, the government is striving to produce electricity from natural gas, diesel, coal fire, solar power, wind power, biogas and waste fuel in addition to hydropower.

As part of its measures to help ease the power shortage, Myanmar authorities have also allowed private entrepreneurs to engage in power production as independent producers on a manageable scale.

The entrepreneurs are set to generate 230 KV (kilo-volts) and 66 KV, standardized by the Ministry of Electric Power, and to supply electricity in line with the prescribed volume.

There had been power crisis in Myanmar since May with candle-light demonstrations against the country’s power cut taking place for several weeks in some towns in Myanmar covering Thongkua, Mandalay, Monywa, Bago, Pyay, Yangon and Pathein.

The then power blackout was partly caused by armed groups’ mine destruction of Ruili-Mansan power grid towers.

Prompted by then peaceful demonstration against blackout, the authorities had taken some urgent measures to ease the power crisis by ordering some 12 heavy-duty generators of 300 to 500 KVA and two gas turbines respectively from the U.S. Caterpillar Co. and General Electric Co, as well as from Singapore.

They were distributed to Yangon, Mandalay, Pyay and put into use. In addition, the authorities also hired some three 120- megawatt gas turbines from Japan to help generate power to ease the power crisis.

Steps were also taken to supply power alternatively in some townships when electricity demand far exceeded supply especially in summer.

According to the Ministry of Electric Power, due to an increase in number of electric power users and state-owned and private factories and workshops, the demand has hit 1,890 megawatts (mw) against actual supply of 1,500 mw.

According to an earlier report, Myanmar’s Ministry of Electric Power-2 has also planned to build power plants with General Electric Co. and Caterpillar Co. of the United States and J Power Co. of Japan.

There are 18 hydropower-, one coal-fired and 10 gas-fired power stations totalling 29 in Myanmar, generating a maximum of about 1, 610 mw in monsoon and 1,340 mw in summer.

Of the 1,610 mw, 1,270 mw is generated by hydropower.

Although consumption in monsoon is less than production, consumption in summer far exceeds the production level.

Power shortage in summer has forced alternative distribution to the public, factories, workshops and businesses in three groups at an interval of six hours.

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