In terms of foreign direct investment (FDI) and the value of exports, oil and gas is the single-most significant sector in Burma, accounting for 90% of all FDI and 45% of exports by value in 2007. According to Thai central bank data, the value of Burma’s export of natural gas will increase from US$2.7 billion in 2007 to reach at least US$3.5 billion in 2008. The new Shwe Gas Project is projected to earn up to US$24 billion for the regime over 20 years.
Revenues from the oil and gas sector have no independent oversight and are recorded in Burma’s public accounts in kyat (the national currency) at the official exchange rate, which over-values the currency by up to 200 times. Therefore the majority of the earnings are not traceable and it is impossible to know how they are spent. This is one reason that Transparency International ranked Burma the second most corrupt government in the world in 2008.
In 2007 hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of Burma to protest the sharp increase in fuel prices. The export of oil and gas from Burma at a time when most people in Burma lack energy for electricity or cooking will only further escalate conflicts between the people, the regime and foreign corporations.
Text from the report Blocking Freedom
For more information on natural gas in Burma, please see www.shwe.org