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By Takaloo
Chiang Mai: Arakan Oil Watch has urged Daewoo International Company, the main operator of the Shwe Gas Project in western Burma's Arakan State, to fulfill the demands of local Arakanese people for 24-hour electricity from the project.

The AOW is an NGO that monitors oil and gas projects in Burma. It said in its press statement on 9 December that anger and dissatisfaction with the Daewoo-led Shwe Gas Project have been growing among the Arakanese people after Energy Minister U Than Htay spoke out in parliament in October that his regime has no plan to use Arakan’s offshore Shwe Gas for Arakan State and that the gas will be exported to China.

Local campaigns demanding “24 Hours of Electricity Now; We Have the Right to Use Our Gas,” have consecutively sprung up in urban and rural areas across Arakan State, following the minister’s statement.

“Arakan people have the right to own and benefit from the Shwe Gas project. It is important for Daewoo-led consortium to comply with local people’s demand for 24 hours of electricity from the Shwe Gas project. If they can’t, they should leave Burma, as its investment project has produced negative results for the people”, said Jockai (Khaing), Executive Director of AOW.

“The Shwe Gas project has committed human rights abuses and environmental damages in Arakan since the beginning of the project implementation in 2004. Fisher folk and farmer’s livelihoods have been especially negatively affected by the project,” Khaing added.

South Korea’s Daewoo International is the main operator holding a 51% stake in Arakan’s offshore Shwe Gas Project, which is also shared by Korean state-owned KOGAS (8%), India’s ONGC (17%), Indian state-owned GAIL (9%), and Burma’s state-owned MOGE (17%).

According to AOW’s press statement, the Shwe Gas Project is designed to produce 500 million cubic feet (mcfd) of gas per day for 30 years, of which 400 mcfd will be exported to China through the pipeline and the remaining 100 mcfd will be supplied to more than fifty factories that include the cement factories owned by the western sanction-listed cronies of Burmese regime.

Burma’s military regime will earn an estimated $29 billion USD from Shwe Gas project exports to China over 30 years starting from 2013.

Khaing said, “It is not certain that the Shwe Gas export revenue is going to be of benefit for the Arakan State or for the country’s economic development, as the government has no revenue transparency management system and they never disclose how they will utilize the gas export revenue.”

According to the activists for 24-hour electricity, Arakan State is abundant in natural resources, including gas, that can generate power to supply electricity 24 hours a day throughout the state, but it is getting the smallest electricity supply in all Burma. At the present day, the local residents living just in main towns are able to access average 3-6 hours of electricity a day supplied by the local private companies using generators run diesel and chaff with a cost 20 times higher than in central Burma.

The activists said they have to launch campaigns calling for the 24-hour electricity supply in Arakan State because the electricity is significant for development in their region and the successive Burmese regimes have neglected the issue, exploiting all natural resources from the state for their own benefit.
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