China Pushes Ahead on Controversial Burma Pipelines

Burma Shwe pipeline photo

Image: Shwe Gas Movement

A report released today criticizes China's plans for two pipelines that will pump natural gas from Burma's offshore reserves, and oil from the Middle East and Africa, both across the country and into China. The pipelines will not only fuel conflict, the report says, but will wipe out hope for one of the world's poorest countries to benefit from the resources, as well as jeopardize the fishing and farming livelihoods of the people who live near the gas terminal.The report, Sold Out, is put out by the Shwe Gas Movement, which was started by Burmese individuals and organizations affected by the pipeline and extraction plan.

Sold Out details the construction of a deep sea port, gas terminal, and oil transfer point in Burma's western Arakan State, as well as the nearly 800 kilometers of pipes that will be installed. The China National Petroleum Corporation, along with Korean and Burmese companies, are pushing ahead on construction despite outbreaks of armed conflict near the pipeline route, according to the Shwe Gas Movement, which continues:

The Burma Army has launched offensives to clear ethnic resistance forces out of resource-rich areas in northern Kachin and Shan states since March 2011. The battles have left an estimated 50,000 newly displaced.

Thirty-three army battalions are currently deployed along the pipeline corridor, naval patrols guard offshore construction, and a missile complex is being built next to the deep sea port.

Selling Out the Country's Future
The report says that the trillions of cubic feet of natural gas that will be extracted, if used domestically, could "transform Burma's failing economy, addressing chronic energy shortages and unaffordable petrol prices that led to uprisings in 2007."

Instead, the estimated $29 billion worth of gas will be piped across the country to China, "swallowed up by a fiscal black hole that omits gas revenues from the national budget," and fueling additional conflict along the way as fighting picks up between armed resistance groups and government troops near the pipeline corridor in northern Burma.

It adds that local people are only able to secure low-wage, temporary, and unsafe jobs on the project and that 60 workers so far have been fired for demanding better wages at the Onshore Gas Terminal site.

"Companies are ignoring widespread abuses and worsening civil war," said Wong Aung of the Shwe Gas Movement. "The regime is selling out our economic future to China."

More on Burma:
Climate Change Threatens to Devastate Burma
New Monkey Discovered in Burma Sneezes When it Rains
Mangrove Loss Left Burma Exposed to Cyclone

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