Major international energy players are eyeing the opening up of Myanmar's largely-untapped oil and gas sector. The country is putting up for tender 30 unexplored oil and gas blocks off its coast and it has attracted interest from companies looking to diversify their energy sources.
YANGON: Major international energy players are eyeing the opening up of Myanmar's largely-untapped oil and gas sector.
The country is putting up for tender 30 unexplored oil and gas blocks off its coast and it has attracted interest from companies looking to diversify their energy sources.
But even as the Myanmar government seeks to unlock its energy resources, it also needs to ensure a constant supply of power to its people.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) suggested turning to the use of renewable energy like wind and solar power in the short term.
For 70 percent of Myanmar's population who live in rural areas, having electricity is considered a luxury.
Energy has therefore been identified by an ADB report as one of the most pressing challenges for Myanmar.
But without a proper grid system to provide electricity, Myanmar needs to consider other solutions in the immediate term.
Stephen Groff, vice president for Southeast Asia at Asian Development Bank, said: "The analogy I would draw is to that of mobile telephony versus wired telephone. Historically, we always thought you'd have to have a cable that's going to connect to your phone, to the network. And we saw a huge leapfrog in a number of countries with respect to mobile telephony. We think that that's a possibility for that to happen in Myanmar as well when it comes to energy solutions.”
Others said piloting solar energy projects in some parts of Myanmar could have long-term viability. However, it cannot be relied on for the medium term as the country still needs to develop more permanent energy solutions.
Satyanarayan Ramamurthy, Asia Pacific head of infrastructure and government at KPMG, said: "The reality is many of these power sources, if you look at them on a cost benefit basis, from an economic point of view, have difficulties when you scale them up on a large scale. They need investment and that's one of the challenges which Myanmar has at this point. They also need cost affordability when you apply them to large scale applications."
With abundant gas resources, experts said Myanmar simply needs to introduce proper regulatory frameworks and develop new national energy strategies to address the issue of unreliable power supply.