Myanmar Factories to Close Amid Planned Power Cuts

By The Irrawaddy 8 March 2022

Factories in Yangon are planning to temporarily halt operations next week after the junta-controlled Ministry of Electricity and Energy announced there might be 24-hour power cuts from Saturday until March 18.

The regime said it would be carrying out underwater pipework to transport gas from two new Shwe gas project fields off the Rakhine coast from March 12-18.

During the pipework, production will halt at Shwe, which supplies gas to generate 668 megawatts (MW) daily for the national grid, forcing the ministry to halve power supplies to 334MW per day, the ministry announced.

Electricity supplied to the grid has declined by 970MW because liquefied natural gas-fired power plants have suspended operations due to increased gas prices and pylons supplying electricity from Lawpita, one of Myanmar’s main hydropower plants, were blown up, said the ministry.

The ministry said it could only produce 2.2GW per day at present and it could only supply 873MW, a quarter of the daytime national demand of 3.4 gigawatts (GW), from March 12 to 18.

Myanmar has experienced rolling blackouts since December, becoming worse since late February with random outages lasting up to six hours.

The maximum daily production capacity under the ousted National League for Democracy administration was nearly 4.2GW.

A factory owner from Yangon’s Hlaing Tharyar Industrial Zone, who asked not to be named, told The Irrawaddy: “The difficulty is that we don’t know when power outages will strike and thus are suffering losses. They have not notified industrial zones about these planned cuts.”

He said the factory would halt operations for a few days because it cost less than operating if electricity was cut for 24 hours.

“We don’t know how long blackouts will last and production costs may increase by 30 percent if we use generators,” said the owner.

The regime did not specify where the power cuts will occur and how long they will last.

Factory owners in Yangon complained about the long, irregular blackouts.

One Yangon drinking water producer said: “Because of fuel price hikes, it is not cost-effective to run with generators.”

Some water plants have already suspended operations.

Yangon has faced two or three daily blackouts lasting at least five hours. Residents are fearing water shortage next week and storing water in every available container.

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