Myanmar’s Crisis & the World

Russia Uses Myanmar Pipeline to Transport oil to China

By Hein Htoo Zan 28 April 2023

Russia has shipped three million barrels of crude oil, over 100,000 barrels per day, to China via a Myanmar pipeline since February, according to Energy Intelligence, a UK-based monitoring group and leading provider of global energy information and data.

Based on independent port data of shipments, Energy Intelligence reported that Russia unloads its crude oil at the Kyaukphyu deep seaport on Made Island in western Myanmar’s Rakhine State, from where it is transported via a 770km pipeline to a refinery owned by PetroChina in Kunming, the capital of China’s Yunnan Province.

Energy Intelligence reported that the shipments to China through the Myanmar pipeline indicate that Russian oil exporters are trying out new export routes in Asia, which has been receiving the bulk of Russia’s crude oil since the European Union imposed an embargo on Russian crude oil in December last year.

Earlier this month, the Leonid Loza, a tanker owned by Dubai-based Sun Ship Management, unloaded a cargo of one million barrels of Russian crude oil at Kyaukphyu. The tanker had been loaded at Russia’s Black Sea port of Novorossiysk, according to Energy Intelligence.

Another cargo of the same size – loaded at the same port – is also on its way to Myanmar on board the Fjord Seal, a Panama-flagged tanker, added Energy Intelligence.

In early April, the monitoring group reported that Russia is also seeking out new Asian buyers for its crude oil, with both India and China already absorbing the lion’s share of its exports.

Over the past year, Myanmar has received the occasional cargo of Russian oil. Energy Intelligence said it is not clear how the military regime paid for the oil.

The pipeline being used by Russia to transport its crude oil to China is operated by China National Petroleum Corp, the parent company of PetroChina, with a 50.9 per cent interest in the company. The remaining shares are held by the junta-owned Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE).

On February 21 last year the European Union imposed new sanctions on junta officials, junta-linked “cronies,” and junta-controlled businesses including MOGE.

MOGE is the regime’s biggest single source of revenue and is responsible for financing the junta’s terror campaign in Myanmar.

Referring to the evidence of British companies’ involvement in Myanmar’s gas industry, Burma Campaign UK has been calling on the British government to sanction MOGE.

Justice For Myanmar (JFM), an activist group that monitors the junta’s businesses, is also calling on governments, including the United States and Japan, to sanction MOGE.

“Sanctions on MOGE are essential to deny the junta the funds it needs to finance its increasing and intensifying violent attacks against civilians, which amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity,” said Ma Yadanar Maung, JFM’s spokesperson.

Until the 2021 coup, the relationship between Myanmar and Russia was limited to arms deals and the training of Myanmar military officers at Russian academies and universities.

But since the putsch Russia has been Myanmar’s major arms supplier, and coordination is expanding in various other sectors from diplomacy to trade and energy.

Regime chief Min Aung Hlaing has vowed to focus constantly on enhancing friendly relations and cooperation with Russia.

Min Aung Hlaing met Russia’s leader Vladimir Putin for the first time in September 2022 in Russia.