MCRB convened a meeting between government, offshore oil and gas companies and others on July 11 in Naypyidaw to discuss lessons learned from the Initial Environmental Examination (IEE) / Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process and to look ahead to future offshore activity including the drilling of exploration wells in the 2016/2017 season.
“The governments of Thailand and Myanmar reaffirmed that the Dawei megaproject will create thousands of jobs and improve the livelihoods of people along the border,” according to Thailand’s caretaker Prime Minister Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha.
Prayuth was speaking at a joint press conference in Bangkok on Friday. Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi also addressed reporters, but made no mention of her administration’s commitment to the Dawei Special Economic Zone (SEZ) or other mutual business or trade interests. The pair also declined to take questions after the press briefing.
Of the long list of challenges inherited by the new government when it took office in April, among the most expensive and ambitious are the special economic zones planned for Yangon and on each side of the country, on the Indian Ocean.
Conceived when Myanmar was still under military rule, the three multi-million-dollar SEZs – at Thilawa in Yangon Region, Dawei in Tanintharyi Region and Kyaukphyu in Rakhine State – have faced accusations of land grabbing and a disregard for transparency.
The first phase of the 400-hectare Zone A was finished last September and the second phase is almost complete, said U Thein Han, chair of Myanmar Japan Thilawa Development (MJTD).
More than 85 percent of the land in Zone A has been reserved by 69 light-industry manufacturers from across the globe, he said. Of these, nine are already exporting their products, ranging from car parts to garments and electronic gadgets.
This quiet stretch of coast just south of Dawei is today used mostly for swimming and fishing by local villagers or the occasional tourist (see related story).
But the northern area of the bay is set to become part of a Chinese plan to build Myanmar’s largest oil refinery – which controversially received approval in the final days of former president U Thein Sein’s administration.
Yangon residents are producing more rubbish and there are fewer places to put it, officials warn. According to a two-year survey carried out by the municipality, lifestyle changes are responsible for some of the increase, which has been exacerbated by a rise in population.
Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business has published a survey which examines how many Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) and Initial Environmental Examinations (IEE) have been published.
The survey focusses on oil and gas companies in Myanmar who were awarded blocks after 2013. It finds that 11 out of 19 offshore blocks (58%) and 4 out of 15 onshore blocks (26%) have published their IEEs or EIAs on the internet.
Karen Rivers Watch, which has been active in campaigning against the series of more than a dozen dams planned along the river in China and Myanmar, said the projects were in breach of people’s rights and desires.
An NLD official yesterday said the new government would re-examine the projects.
A new international terminal at Yangon airport is scheduled to open next week, with some flights to be moved to the new facilities, relieving strained capacity at the country’s main international gateway.
Once complete, the new building will be able to handle 6 million passengers a year, more than double the airport’s current capacity of 2.7 million.
A spokesperson for Asia World Group, whose subsidiary Pioneer Aero-drome Services is building the new terminal, said the opening date is set for March 12, the Myanmar Times reported on Friday.
All eyes have been on Myanmar this week as it finally voted a new president, Htin Kyaw, into office, in so doing becoming the latest debutante into the democratic club. A close aide (for many he is a proxy) of democracy icon Aug San Suu Kyi, who is blocked from taking up the role due to constitutional hurdles, Htin Kyaw is the first civilian leader of the country since 1962.
The new Myanmar government faces high expectations. We know the multi-ethnic country of 60 million, with chronic problems of ethnic tensions, will not turn into a fully fledged democratic society overnight.