China eyes Myanmar power sector

May 25th, 2012 - 11:57 am ICT by IANS  

Beijing, May 25 (IANS) China will encourage its firms to discuss cooperation with Myanmar on upgrading the country’s power grid in order to help ease power shortage, the Chinese foreign ministry has said. Demonstrations against power cuts have taken place in several towns of Myanmar this week, Xinhua reported.

Protesters accused the Myanmar government of selling energy resources to China, which they say has led to frequent power outages in the country.

“The Chinese government has always demanded that its companies conduct economic and trade cooperation with Myanmar in line with the principle of mutual benefit, so as to benefit the people of both countries,” said Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei.

He said contracts signed between Chinese companies and Myanmar on power cooperation complied with local laws and regulations.

He said power shortage in Myanmar were mainly due to the country’s creaking power grid.

In April, due to insufficient electricity supply in the country, Myanmar’s power authorities barred industrial zones, factories and workshops from using electricity for a fixed six-hour period during the night. This, the authorities hoped, would create an alternative supply of power for public use during peak hours between 5 and 11 p.m.

According to Myanmar’s state media, 52 heavy-duty generators have been ordered from foreign companies that will arrive in Myanmar within a week to be put into use to calm the protests.

Earlier, the New Light of Myanmar daily, published by the country’s interior ministry, reported that Myanmar plans to build more power plants in the country with companies from the US, Japan and South Korea.

The companies with which Myanmar’s ministry of electric power will cooperate in building power plants are General Electric Co. and Caterpillar Co. of the US, J Power Co. of Japan and BKB Co. of South Korea.

The report said a 600 MW coal-fired power plant near Yangon will be built on a joint venture with the Japanese firm, while another 500 MW gas-fired power plant will be carried out in collaboration with the South Korean company.

Currently, there are 18 hydropower, one coal-fired and 10 gas-fired power stations — totalling 29 — in Myanmar, which generate a maximum of 1,610 MW in the monsoon season and 1,340 MW in summer.

Consumption in monsoon is 1,560 MW, less than the production and is enough for distribution, but it is 1,850 MW in summer, far exceeding the production, the ministry said.

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