The Ministry of Electricity and Energy (MOEE) is making plans to build new oil refineries in Myanmar to meet domestic oil demand and boost energy security in the country, said U Tin Maung Oo, Permanent Secretary of the MOEE.

The new refinery projects will be implemented with the private sector under Public Private Partnership schemes, he said. The MOEE expects to build one new refinery capable of processing up to 5 million tonnes of crude oil near the government’s Petrochemical Complex (Thanbayarkan) in Magway Region.

There are currently just two oil refineries in Myanmar : No.1 Refinery (Thanlyin) in Yangon Region which was constructed in 1955 and No.2 Refinery (Chauk) in Magway Region which was constructed in 1954. The No.1 Refinery (Thanlyin) is now shut down as officials attempt to gauge its commercial viability.

Meanwhile, the MOEE has permitted small-scale refineries and more than 170 related businesses to operate in the various states and regions.

The government’s commitment to build more local refineries would benefit the country if implemented successfully, would beneficial to the country given that Myanmar imports some 600,000 tonnes of petroleum monthly, said U Win Myint, Secretary of Myanmar Petroleum Trade Association.

In a recent report on the outlook for Myanmar’s fuel sector, Fitch Solutions Country Risk and Industry Research said: “Myanmar continues to suffer from a chronic deficit in refining capacity and this necessitates huge dependence on imported fuels. In 2018, Myanmar spent a total of US$3.9 billion on petroleum imports, equivalent to 5.4 percent of GDP and the highest on record.”

In fact, Fitch expects investor interest in building refineries in Myanmar to grow despite the country’s “subpar track record” in pushing through new projects. It said the risks associated with investing in Myanmar are high but this should be mitigated by a pro-investment government and strong demand.

Going forward, “Myanmar’s import burden will only rise further as its economy and fuel demand continues to expand. Even after factoring in near-term headwinds arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, Myanmar will be among the fastest growing fuel markets in Asia-Pacific, with domestic consumption of refined fuels expected to grow at an average rate of 5pc over the next five years,” Fitch reported.

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