Burma Business Roundup (Saturday, Feb. 23)

By William Boot 23 February 2013

MOGE-Linked Contractor Co-Hosts Energy Ministry Oil Conference

A Burmese contractor involved in the construction of China’s oil and gas pipelines through Burma is co-hosting the Ministry of Energy’s latest conference in Rangoon to promote the industry’s development.

Parami Energy, headed by Ken Tun, is hosting the “Myanmar Upstream Oil & Gas Summit 2013” along with a London promotions firms CWC Group and the state-owned Myanma Oil & Gas Enterprise (MOGE).

MOGE is a partner in China National Petroleum Corporation’s US $2.5 billion twin gas and oil pipelines through Burma.

The conference on March 4-6 is an “exclusive opportunity to engage in interactive discussions and network with the key decision-makers shaping the country’s oil and gas agenda,” says CWC.

It’s the third such conference in a year. One was held last March and another in September under the organization of Singapore’s Center for Management Technology, which no longer seems to be involved.

According to CWC, participants at the forthcoming conference include a number of Burmese companies, PTTEP of Thailand which already operates several offshore gas blocks in Burma, GAIL of India, and Woodside of Australia. However, there do not appear to be any major international Western oil companies listed as participants.

At the last conference, on Sept. 3-6, participants and keynote speakers came from Shell and global US giant Chevron Corporation and ConocoPhillips.

After that conference, it was disclosed that the Ministry of Energy postponed an announcement of a new offshore blocks bidding round because of Western company objections to the continued involvement of MOGE, which was closely linked with the former ruling military regime.

The upcoming March conference agenda includes “first hand updates on the latest round of biddings for oil and gas exploration blocks,” says CWC.

Mandalay to Get Burma’s Biggest Electricity Power Plant

It’s emerged that a coal-fueled power plant planned by Malaysian construction firm Mudajaya Group for Mandalay will be the biggest in Burma at 500 megawatts. That would be nearly 20 percent of the country’s existing electricity-generating capacity.

Mudajaya is currently conducting a feasibility study into building two power stations in the Mandalay area, according to the Business Times of Kuala Lumpur. The first would be the coal-fueled plant, the paper said quoting company sources.

“[Burma] has an open market policy and the government has no limit as to how big we can build the plant. Depending on fuel supply and use, the plant could get bigger,” the unnamed company spokesman told Business Times.

Outlined plans for a coal power plant were announced earlier this year but size, cost and timetable were not given.

Now it has emerged that the coal-powered plant would cost US $750 million and construction could begin in 2014.

It’s still not clear where financing for the power plant would come from, but Mudajaya has said it will be partnered by Malaysian philanthropist Koon Yew Yin.

Army-linked Tycoon Tay Za’s Bank Moves Closer to Respectability

US-blacklisted businessman Tay Za, who heads the Burmese conglomerate Htoo Trading, has been given permission for his Asia Green Development Bank to become a public company.

The move, approved by the Directorate of Investment and Companies Administration, is aimed at trading on an eventual Burma stock market.

Asia Green is one of the biggest of Burma’s 19 banks, opening more than 20 branches since establishment in 2010.

Htoo Trading includes mining and farming interests, hotels and an airline.

However, Tay Za is still on a US government blacklist for his close business and financial links with the former military regime that ran Burma until recently. In the past he has been accused by the US of involvement in weapons, drugs, and money laundering.

Another Australian Firm Bids to Join Burma’s Oil and Gas Hunt

A small Australian company has formed an alliance with a little-known Burmese firm to bid for oil and gas exploration licenses in Burma.

Raisama Energy, based in Perth, Western Australia, said it had teamed up with Chinthe Energy.

Raisama managing director Jeff Steketee said the partnership believed that the delayed license bidding for offshore blocks in the Bay of Bengal and Gulf of Martaban will now be offered by the Ministry of Energy in March.

The license auction was to have been made last September but was postponed amid criticism of the state Myanma Oil & Gas Enterprise’s close links with the former military regime.

Raisama has licenses to prospect for oil and gas in Indonesia and Philippines but to date is not a producer; neither is Chinthe Energy.

Raisama also has interests in uranium mining in Australia.

“Myanmar is highly prospective for oil and gas as recognized by both large and small players and exemplified by Woodside’s recent investment,” said Steketee in a statement. “As we did in Indonesia and the Philippines, Raisama has sought out best of class partners which are fully engaged.”

Woodside Energy is the biggest of Australia’s independent oil companies. At the end of 2012 it bought into the prospective Block A-6 in the Bay of Bengal held MPRL E&P of Burma and undertook to carry out seismic exploration.