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Burma signs deal for new power plant to serve Rangoon

An agreement to build a new 500-megawatt gas-fired power plant has been signed by the Burmese Minister for Electric Power No-2, Khin Maung Soe, the state-run media said on Sunday. The plant could be completed in about one year, said officials in an article in The New Light of Myanmar, the official state-run newspaper.

Protestors hold candles in a symbolic gesture against electricity power cuts while demonstrating in front of the Rangoon Electric Power Cooperation office in Ahlone Township, Rangoon, on Wednesday, May 30, 2012. Photo: Lynn Bo Bo / MizzimaThe agreement involved a Memorandum of Understanding that said the plant will be built in Thakayta Township by the ministry in cooperation with BKB Consortium (South Korea) and Hexa International Co., Ltd  by BOT/JV system. The project includes two gas turbines, two head recovery stream generators and one stream turbine. It will be able to generate 500 megawatt and distribute more electricity to Rangoon and its environs, which has suffered extreme power shortages in recent weeks.

As the recent protests over electricity shortages began, the government outlined its plans to generate more electricity capacity in the medium to long term.

“We know that electricity is a major challenge for our country. We have to consider five essential needs – land, electricity, roads, telecommunications and water – when foreign investors are coming. We are trying to find ways to have [create] a 24-hour electricity supply to develop our country,” Deputy Minister for Electric Power 2 Aung Than Oo said at a press conference on May 21, one day after protests began in Mandalay, according to an article in the Myanmar Times, an English language newspaper.

Aung Than Oo said the government was inviting foreign investment in the power sector and plans for two foreign-backed power plant construction projects were underway.

“We are going to build a 600 megawatt (MW) coal-fired plant with Japanese J Power Company and another 500MW gas-fired power plant with South Korea. These plants will be built near Yangon,” he said.

The coal plant would take three or four years to complete. The gas-fired plant would be finished in a little over a year, he said.

Myint Aung, managing director of the Ministry of Electric Power 2, which is responsible for generation and distribution of electricity, said that some foreign companies were interested in investing in power generation.

“Many local and foreign companies approached the government about investing in power supply installation and privatization of electricity generation but so far they have only offered to loan the government money,” he was quoted as saying.

The Ministry of Electric Power 1 is responsible for electricity production and managing hydro power projects; the Ministry of Electric Power 2 is responsible for electricity generation, distribution and sales, while the Ministry of Energy sells natural gas to foreign countries.

Burma currently has 18 hydropower plants, one coal-fired power plant and 10 gas-fired plants. The hydropower plants have a maximum generation capacity of 1270 MW but only 1000 MW in summer because of the low water levels in reservoirs. The gas-fired plants can generate an additional 340 MW.

However, this is at least 500 MW below electricity demand, which has increased 15 percent this year, Aung Than Oo said.

Peak usage during rainy season averages 1450 MW, rising to 1850MW during hot season, according to ministry figures, although large areas throughout the country still remain off the national grid.

The recent protest demonstrations in Rangoon, Mandalay and other cities were sparked by cuts to electricity supply after insurgents bombed transmission lines linking the Shweli hydropower station to the national grid, reducing generation capacity by about 200 MW, according to the government.
Last Updated ( Monday, 04 June 2012 14:06 )  
The Kachin’s last stand
Since October this year, Burma has been in a state of civil war, with fighting between Burmese military and armed ethnic rebels. The ruling junta started a crackdown on these armed groups.

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