Interview: U Myint Zaw

In light of the impending formation of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), what role will Myanmar play in the energy security of the region?

U MYINT ZAW: As an ASEAN member state, we are trying to align with the ultimate goal of establishing the ASEAN Free Trade Area by 2015 under the umbrella of the AEC. We realise that energy security is essential to the long-term development of the AEC. The collective efforts of all members are needed to ensure the region’s energy security. Currently, we are supporting this goal through our participation in the Trans-ASEAN Gas Pipeline and the ASEAN Power Grid. In the meantime, we are encouraging and accelerating our oil and gas exploration activities by cooperating with local and international companies. The new National Electricity Master Plan can further help to ensure the development of power projects. Therefore, with the rapid development of our energy sector, we believe Myanmar is well positioned to support the energy security of the region.

What priorities has the National Energy Management Committee (NEMC) identified in formulating the Energy Master Plan (EMP)?

ZAW: Under the technical assistance programme supported by the Asian Development Bank, the NEMC is preparing the long-term EMP in cooperation with national and international energy sector experts. We are preparing a comprehensive development plan with the aim of supporting the country’s economic growth and enabling affordable universal energy access throughout its diverse landscape by providing energy in a sustainable way. There are many challenges we will need to address if we are to achieve our targets, but if we can increase our energy security then our goals will be attainable.

The planning process is still in progress, but in order to achieve the objectives of the long-term plan, we will need public and private stakeholder participation. The NEMC will play a vital role by strengthening cooperation among stakeholders.

How would you assess current production agreements with international firms and governments?

ZAW: The production-sharing contract (PSC) is a typical contract for bilateral and multilateral cooperation, and we firmly believe that our PSC is beneficial to both government and investors. Recently, we have been inviting parties to conduct oil and gas exploration and production through international bidding, and many leading global oil and gas companies have participated. This proves that our PSC contract is recognised globally by many investors.

Is the volatility in oil prices making investors in advanced oil extraction more cautious?

ZAW: The global oil price is going down, but this has had less of an impact on the investment flow than one might expect. During recent years, we called three international bidding rounds – two for onshore blocks and one for offshore. Most of the awarded companies have signed the PSC with the Ministry of Energy and will perform activities accordingly.

What measures are being taken to improve the quality of human capital available to the industry?

ZAW: In initialising the corporatisation process, we realise that human resources development is critically important. With this in mind, we are conducting capacity development activities by cooperating with local companies, international governments and multinational corporations. We also adopted rules and regulations requiring that international investors cooperate with a local company under a joint venture agreement and that they employ local people in oil and gas exploration as well as production activities. This will help to ensure capacity