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Myanmar, still known as Burma by many, was ruled for decades by a repressive military junta that kept it isolated from the rest of the world. Stiff economic sanctions were imposed by both the EU and the US, and while some Western energy companies were criticized by human rights groups for helping the regime elude the sanctions, Myanmar’s economy was by and large stagnant and its considerable natural energy resources largely untapped.
Myanmar, an energy rich country, benefits from large, apparently proven, reserves of oil and natural gas – the US Energy Information Administration estimates its proven oil and gas reserves as 50 million barrels of oil and 10 trillion cubic feet of gas. The Myanmar Ministry of Energy (MOE), on behalf of the Myanmar Government, announced an invitation for sealed bids for the Myanmar Offshore Blocks First Bidding Round on 11 April 2013 as the country pushes to attract foreign investment and expertise to help overcome an energy deficit that’s a legacy of gas export deals made by its former military rulers. .The round offers offshore blocks for Petroleum Operations to be conducted on a Production Sharing basis. A total of 30 offshore areas are offered, 11 Shallow Water Blocks and 19 Deep Water Blocks.
Despite facing major challenges, Myanmar does have intrinsic strengths; it is fortunate in its location and that it is starting its reforms during the digital era. Among Myanmar’s intrinsic strengths are its rich endowments of natural gas, oil, and precious and semi-precious stones—though the experience of other countries shows that resources can be a mixed blessing.. Myanmar accounts for 90% of the world’s jade production and is among the top producers of rubies and sapphires. Myanmar also has the 25th-largest endowment of arable land and ten times the per capita water endowment of China and India. Myanmar is blessed with a large working-age population (aged 15 to 64) estimated at 46 million out of an estimated population of 60 million, and an estimated three million to five million migrants working abroad whose experience would benefit the country if they were to return home.
Myanmar is also fortunate in its location at the crossroads between Bangladesh, China, India, Laos, and Thailand, countries that are home to more than 40% of the world’s population and are huge potential markets. Overall, Myanmar is close to a market of more than half a billion people. And by the end of 2025 over half of the world’s consuming class, that is, those with income of more than $10 a day, will live within a five-hour flight of Myanmar. Not only are such Asian economies growing rapidly but economic integration in the region is gathering momentum, and Myanmar is part of that process.