Mekong Utility Watch

Unplugging Thailand, Myanmar energy deals

Shawn L Nance, Asia Times Online

November 13, 2006

Bangkok: Thai Energy Minister Piyasvasti Amranand says he intends to scrap the previous government’s controversial multi-billion dollar plans to ramp up imports of hydroelectric power and natural gas from neighboring military-run Myanmar, signaling a potentially significant shift in which direction the region’s energy flows and a possible new era of bilateral antagonism between the historical rivals.


On October 9, Piyasvasti, making the first public statement by a new minister, told a local radio station in little-noticed comments that “sweeping reform” was in store for the kingdom’s energy policy, including bolstering the use of renewable fuel in power production and reconsidering major projects that aggravated social tensions, which had run high since the September 19 coup that ousted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s government.

Toward that end, Piyasvasti suggested that he would shelve long-standing and controversial plans to build a network of five hydropower dams on the Salween river system in Myanmar.

… But the project continues to move forward – to the point where several observers feel that the dams may be too far advanced to roll back the clock on the projects. The Hatgyi dam, for instance, would be the first on the 2,800 kilometer Salween, the last major free-flowing river in Southeast Asia. .

.. Some energy experts now wonder whether Piyasvasti will really pull the plug on all the Myanmar mega-energy projects and if he does, whether his ministry can devise an economically viable solution to Thailand’s pressing energy dilemma. … Read the full story. [PDFver here]

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