RANGOON — Burma’s earnings from natural gas exports fell in the last fiscal year as more of the resource was consumed domestically but shipments of greater volumes to China as a new pipeline comes up to speed are expected to boost earnings this year.
Burma earned $3.299 billion from the export of gas during the 2013-14 (April/March) fiscal year, down from $3.666 billion in 2012-13 and compared to $3.502 billion in 2011-2012 and $580 million in 2003-2004, according to data released on Wednesday by the state-run Central Statistical Organization (CSO).
Gas exports are a crucial revenue source for the Southeast Asian nation, accounting for nearly 30 percent of its total exports of $11.204 billion in the last fiscal year.
Win Maw, a senior energy ministry official, said the drop in exports in the last fiscal year was due to the allocation of more gas for domestic consumption after redrawing the agreement with Thailand’s PTT, previously the sole buyer of gas from offshore blocks in the Mottama Sea in southern Burma.
He said a small amount of the gas was exported during 2013-2014 to energy-hungry neighbor China but more will be exported this year as a new cross-country pipeline is filled to capacity.
“We started selling gas from Rakhine Offshore Blocks to China through the 793 km-long cross-country pipeline around the end of last year, but the amount was rather small since it was not technically feasible to send much through a new pipeline,” Win Maw told Reuters.
“Technically, we need to fill up a new pipeline with gas gradually and it takes about a year to fill to capacity. Around the end this year, we’ll be able to transport to China through the pipeline to full capacity,” he said.
Domestic power consumption in Burma has been rising steeply as the country has undertaken economic reforms since a quasi-military government took office in 2011 after nearly five decades of military rule.
According to CSO data, total generation of electric power during the last fiscal year was 13.048 billion kwh, up from 10.964 billion kwh in the 2012-13 fiscal year and 8.625 billion kwh in 2011-2012.
Generation by gas was 2.794 billion kwh during the last fiscal, up from 2.377 billion kwh in 2012-13 and 1.763 billion kwh in 2011-2012.
“As the official data shows, domestic demand for electricity is growing speedily, but we have prepared to increase generation to meet the demand without affecting gas exports,” a senior official from the Ministry of Electric Power told Reuters.