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Energy firms keen to feed Myanmar's power needs

Jan 09. 2013
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Thai energy companies are hungry for investment opportunities in power-poor Myanmar.

Wandee Khunchornyakong, chairwoman of solar producer SPCG, said yesterday that Myanmar had only 2.5 gigawatts of capacity to serve more than 56 million people, while Thailand had 32GW for 67 million.

Energy demand has spiked after the isolated country opened up last year and foreign businesses began pouring in, she said.

SPCG it sounding out a group of major investors about starting up a solar-farm business. The joint venture is expected to be finalised by year-end.

Two 1-megawatt solar farms are expected to be located in Yangon and Mandalay, each covering at least 30 rai (4.8 hectares). The investment should be about Bt70 million for each solar farm.

“Solar farms are suitable for Myanmar because the country has an off-grid system. Solar farms can be easily connected without having to rely on electricity poles. It is suitable for the community and environmentally friendly,” she said while attending the opening of Kasikornbank’s representative office in Yangon.

The cost of generating electricity by solar cells is half the cost of using diesel.

Solar farms are easy and fast to set up, while big power plants can take several years to begin supplying power, as they need all facilities such as pipelines and poles, Wandee said.

Surong Bulakul, chief financial officer of PTT, said the group planned this year to expand its business from upstream to midstream after it has been doing business in Myanmar for more than 20 years.

Its PTT Exploration and Production unit plans to produce power from a natural-gas reservoir at Zotica after PTT has been producing natural gas at two sites in Myanmar.

From total expected capacity of 300 million cubic feet per day, about 60mcf/d will be sent to Myanmar and 240mcf/d to Thailand.

Thai Oil will continue developing a refinery in Myanmar.

PTT will launch PTT Life service |stations in big cities, which will not only dispense petrol but also offer services such as Amazon coffee, Wi-Fi and car maintenance.

 PTT has a long-established business relationship with Myanmar and contributes US$300 million (Bt9 billion) per month in revenue to the Myanmar government from the purchase of natural gas.

“The opening up of the representative office will support the Myanmar economy such as modern trade and electronic remittances,” Surong said.

Preeyanart Soonthornwata, president of Amata B Grimm Power, said the company was studying the laws and regulations before deciding to enter Myanmar.

“The energy business depends on the government’s policies because it deals with rates, national fuel policy to serve the masses, energy security and the transfer of funds.”

Myanmar has high potential because the country is rich in natural resources such as natural gas and coal, she said.

“But we have to be sure that the rules and regulations are settled and stable.”

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