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Myanmar urged to address electricity loss

Myanmar’s electricity authorities need to pay more attention to transmission line maintenance to reduce frequent blackouts, experts said last week.

“Technical losses need to be urgently addressed and 100-per- cent electrification is crucial to the nation’s growth,” said Andrew Lee, manager of General Electric Myanmar. Electricity would help Myanmar move forward, but frequent blackouts due to system breakdown and weather conditions mean that the country needs a wider network and better transmission lines, he said at a panel discussion during the “Myanmar Business Leaders’s Summit: A new dawn”.

Cooperation is needed among the government, development partners, multinational companies and civil society.

“As long as the government generates losses of electricity, there is no way it could be sustainable. Without electricity, the country cannot move.”

Myanmar needs to maintain transmission lines regularly and invest more in maintenance and educating people in order to improve efficiency, as a large percentage of the load is missing.

Generating companies should practise due diligence to ensure technical capability, he said

According to World Bank data, in 2013, transmission losses in Myanmar were as high as 27 per cent.

The ratio is high especially when the nation’s installed capacity is low and over seven million households have no access to electricity.

Lee supported Myanmar’s plan to generate more power by all means – hydro, oil and gas, solar, wind and renewable energy.

This requires independent power producers and more engagement with donors such as the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and International Finance Corporation.

According to Lee, four cities – Yangon, Mandalay, Nay Pyi Taw, and Sagaing – use more than 70 per cent of total electricity generation.

More focus should be placed on the southern part of Myanmar, he said.

David Lukas, managing director of Smart Energy Services, proposed fully financed options for power production for the benefit of end-users.

“Reliability is an issue in power generation, and reliability standards differ for different projects.

“So, if you are building a new hospital, the hospital will really need reliable power. Likewise, in the telecommunications industry, you will also need reliable power,” he said.

“For Myanmar to grow in terms of GDP [gross domestic product], it needs more power. There is no doubt about it.”

Myanmar should adapt to three main global changes – technological, social and economic – as well as climate change.

Instead of using noisy generators to turn the lights on during blackouts, solar power is recommended, though each technology has some challenges.

Each project should be looked at individually in terms of operating and capital costs, he said.

Much of the discussion was also devoted to oil and gas exploration in the country.

Lynn Myint, general manager of North Petro-Chem Corporation (Myanmar) and former chief geologist at Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise, said more than 80 per cent of Myanmar’s onshore and offshore blocks have not been explored yet, most of them being in the western part of the country.

Before 2012, Russia and China played leading roles in exploration. International players emerged only after public bidding.

Lynn Myint has high hopes about new discoveries, thanks to very high technology and highly capable companies.

Woodside recently discovered gas at a block in Rakhine basin owned by Total E&P and MPRL.

Yet, the government should strike a right balance – some of the reserves should be kept for younger generations, he said.

“In Thailand, they gave all their blocks to multinational companies from other countries. Finally, they ended up without any reserves.

“So, they have to import gas from our country. Myanmar could face a similar situation one day, if we do not have a proper plan [for reserves] in place”

Daniel Clery, Woodside’s manager for Myanmar, said gas discovered in Myanmar should be turned into electricity to support economic expansion.

Guy Williams, manager for Myanmar of Coffey International, urged the government to pay attention to environmental impact assessment.

Lack of information and knowledge needs to be addressed very urgently to ensure a great transition, he said.

The one-day seminar gathered nearly 200 business leaders from home and abroad including financial decision makers, central bankers, securities regulators, corporate leaders of Myanmar’s leading State companies and private sector enterprises, senior management and decision makers from international and regional banks, insurance, securities companies, investors, fund managers, investment corporations, project developers, commodity traders, energy sources providers and real estate companies.

Philip Jeyaretnam, global vice chair and regional CEO of Dentons Rodyk & Davidson LLP, which organised the event, said that the event aimed at providing the high-level strategic platform for foreign investors, bankers, securities experts, financiers, insurers to meet with key decision-makers from

Myanmar, and providing the latest updates on the nation’s sustained economic and monetary reforms, new investment opportunities in many different sectors of the economy. It took about three months to prepare for the event.

 

Source: Myanmar Eleven

 

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