No Border Guard Force Deadline for KIO

The Burmese military regime have lifted the deadline for agreement over their border guard force demand with the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) and will continue talks, according to KIO sources.

Eight KIO leaders including chairman Lanyaw Zawng Hra, Vice-chairman (1) Gauri Zau Seng, and general secretary La Ja met with a delegation of seven members from the Burmese military regime led by Maj-Gen Soe Win, commander of Northern Regional Command in Myitkyina, capital of Kachin State on Tuesday.

James Lum Dau, the KIO’s deputy chief of foreign affairs in Bangkok told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday that there is no deadline for the KIO’s armed wing, the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), to become part of the Burmese regime-dominated border guard force. Both sides will continue discussions over the issue, he said. Continue reading “No Border Guard Force Deadline for KIO”

Fresh attack on KNU likely

Wednesday, 30 December 2009 12:16 Brian McCartan

Chiang Mai, Thailand (Mizzima) – A bomb blast at Karen New Year celebrations in Papun town on December 16 was quickly blamed on the Karen National Union (KNU) but border sources suggest that the blast may be the prelude to a dry season offensive in northern Karen State early next year.

The explosion killed seven Karen and injured a further 11 celebrating the New Year at a fair ground in the town of Papun. Burma watchers say bomb blasts have frequently been used by the junta in the past as excuses for launching military operations. Many observers believe that many of the bombs were planted by the regime itself.

In 2006 a series of explosions in central Burma were blamed on the KNU’s armed wing, the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA). A regime spokesman said at the time that offensive military operations in eastern Pegu Division and northern Karen State were necessary to stop the “terrorist attacks” of the KNU. Military operations continued for months and resulted in the displacement of thousands of Karen villagers.

This time the regime looks set to use the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) to attempt to seize control of the region. Rumours of an offensive into northern Karen State began circulating shortly after the completion of operations against the Karen National Liberation Army’s (KNLA) 7th Brigade in central Karen State in June. The unusual rainy season offensive resulted in the KNLA’s loss of several border camps and established DKBA control of the border from Myawaddy to the confluence of the Moei and Salween Rivers. Continue reading “Fresh attack on KNU likely”

ONGC to Lend $857 Million to Unit for Burma Project

Dec. 29 (Bloomberg) — Indian Oil & Natural Gas Corp. will lend 40 billion rupees ($857 million) to its overseas unit investing in a gas project off Burma’s coast as India’s biggest explorer seeks to meet rising fuel demand at home.

“For us it makes more sense to invest in assets through ONGC Videsh Ltd. than put the money in banks,” ONGC Chairman and Managing Director R.S. Sharma said in a telephone interview today. The interest-free loan has no maturity date, Sharma said.

ONGC, the New Delhi-based producer of almost 25 percent of the crude oil used by Asia’s third-largest energy-consuming nation, is seeking to diversify its supplies and keep pace with India’s growing fuel needs. The company plans to get the equivalent of 60 million metric tons of oil, or more than double its output in India, from overseas fields by 2025.

“There are limited number of opportunities at home,” said Apurva Shah, head of research at Prabhudas Lilladher Pvt. in Mumbai. “Given that there is going to be some serious growth in domestic demand in the years to come, ONGC needs to get its hands on whatever assets it can get.”

India is competing with China for energy assets worldwide as output from domestic fields declines. ONGC bought Imperial Energy Plc for 1.4 billion pounds ($2.2 billion) this year to gain access to oilfields in Russia. Chinese companies have announced plans to spend at least $16 billion on oil and gas fields in Africa.

ONGC declined 1.2 percent to 1,183 rupees at 11:04 a.m. in Mumbai trading today, compared with a 0.2 percent gain in the benchmark Sensitive Index of the Bombay Stock Exchange. The shares have risen 73 percent this year.

Burma Gas

ONGC has a 17 percent stake in the Shwe, Shwe-Phu and Mya areas in the A-1 and A-3 blocks in Burma, estimated to hold between 4.5 trillion and 7.7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

Daewoo International Corp. is the leader of the group that’s developing the fields and owns a 51 percent stake. Myanmar Oil & Gas Enterprise holds a 15 percent share, while GAIL India Ltd. and Korea Gas Corp. have 8.5 percent each.

The group will supply 500 million cubic feet of gas a day from the fields to China National Petroleum Corp., Daewoo International said on Aug. 25. The venture plans to start deliveries in May 2013.

“ONGC Videsh will start repaying the loan when they start generating cash from the project,” Sharma said. The loan requires the approval of the Cabinet, he said.

Project Infrastructure

The group is in talks with China National Petroleum to build an 825-kilometer (513-mile) overland pipeline to transport the cleaner-burning fuel to the world’s fastest-growing major economy. ONGC has the “option” to buy a share in the pipeline, R.S. Butola, managing director of ONGC Videsh, said on Oct. 6.

Daewoo International awarded a $1.4 billion contract to Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. to build an offshore production platform, offshore pipelines and a land terminal at the Burma’s fields by 2012, the South Korean company said on Nov. 2.

Proven reserves in Burma reached 17.5 trillion cubic feet at the end of last year, equivalent to a fifth of Australia’s reserves, according to the BP Statistical Review.

Thai cabinet permits PTT to purchase gas from Zawtika

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – The Thai cabinet has permitted the country’s largest state-owned energy provider, PTT to sign a new gas deal in the Zawtika Field in the Gulf of Martaban of Burma.

Watchara Kannika, deputy spokesperson of Thai Government’s House said in a press conference on Tuesday that the Thai cabinet approved the proposal of the National Energy Policy Committee for the new gas deal.

“The field in M9 block can produce 300 million cubic feet per day. Of that, 240 million cubic feet will be supplied to Thailand and 60 cubic feet used in Burma as price from this field. The price is the same as that of gas from Yadana and Yetagun fields,” he said, according to a report in Thai News Agency website.

Thailand’s Energy Minister Wannarat Charnnukul said on Monday after he chaired a meeting of the National Energy Policy Committee, which endorsed a five-year supply plan. The demand is expected to increase to 5.142 billion cubic feet of gas per day by 2015.

The MoU is worth more than US$1 billion (Bt33.29 billion) and will see a supply of gas for 25 to 30 years. Gas transmission from the field will start in 2013, Wannarat said.

The date of the signing has not been revealed yet.

The plan is to supply 6,890 megawatts, as per a second revision of the 2007 power-development plan (PDP). Continue reading “Thai cabinet permits PTT to purchase gas from Zawtika”

young generation exists underground who will carry the weight of Burma’s future beyond the elections next year.

Fresh blood for a new decade
Joseph Allchin

Dec 30, 2009 (DVB)–Amidst calls for fresh blood in Burma’s official opposition, a young generation exists underground who will carry the weight of Burma’s future beyond the elections next year.

I sit in front of one rapper, one freshly released prisoner, and a dedicated campaigner and de facto leader of activist group, Generation Wave (GW). They are telling me about their slogan campaign playing on the important acronym in Burma: CNG. The term usually refers to Compressed Natural Gas, a popular commodity in the smog-choked cities of many of Burma’s trading partners, and a lucrative export for the junta. But Min Yan Naing and Generation Wave have ‘subvertised’ this acronym to ‘Change New Government’.
There is a cutting edge, youthful air about the group, fostered not least by the graffiti adorning the walls. The fresh faced bravado is tempered however, by the simple statement; “I just want to go back home”.
Indeed it an element that is forgotten about when talking to rebels and brave activists: what do their parents think? “When we arrive in Rangoon or our place, we don’t inform our parents, because if we inform them by phone they will say ‘don’t come back! Go back to Mae Sot!’ At the time [on returning] I felt really bad; how can they not accept their son at home?” Continue reading “young generation exists underground who will carry the weight of Burma’s future beyond the elections next year.”

Authorities demand data on opposition party

Dec 30, 2009 (DVB)–Opposition party members in Burma are being forced to divulge personal details about their families and jobs to intelligence officers, reportedly on instruction from senior government.

Lists of National League for Democracy (NLD) members in Mandalay division, Kachin state and Bago division have been drawn up, while birth dates of divisional members of Mandalay’s Chanmyayttharzan township were collected recently, NLD organizing member Myo Naing said.
“They didn’t come openly; local authorities came to ask our dates of birth,” he said. “They said they did it under order of senior authorities. I saw the list of the names of four to five NLD members in our ward.”
Another NLD member in Mandalay division, Tun Tun, said that it was not clear why surveillance was being stepped up.
“They are mainly collecting [data] in rural areas. In urban areas, they collect them in satellite towns,” he said. “When I asked them they said they do it under instruction from the top.” Continue reading “Authorities demand data on opposition party”

ONGC, GAIL to take stake in China pipeline

State-run Oil and Natural Gas Corporation and GAIL India plan to take 12.5 per cent stake in the $2.01 billion (Rs 9,300 crore) gas pipeline that China is building in Myanmar to transport natural gas found in the Bay of Bengal.
Sources said the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs is likely to soon consider a proposal allowing ONGC Videsh, the overseas arm of the state explorer, and GAIL to invest $251.2 million (around Rs 1,170 crore) in China National Petroleum Corp’s 870-km pipeline.
Sources said CNPC has offered 49.9 per cent stake to the consortium developing gas fields in blocks A-1 and A-3.
South Korea’s Daewoo Corp holds 51 per cent stake each in Block A-1 and A-3 while OVL has 17 per cent stake. GAIL and Korea Gas Corp have 8.5 per cent each while the remaining 15 per cent is with Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise.

US passport is no protection from Rangoon goons

EARLY on September 3, my phone rang. I picked up, thinking it might be my fiance, Nyi Nyi Aung, who was visiting family in Bangkok, Thailand. But it was Nyi Nyi’s brother. Nyi Nyi, he said, had boarded a plane to our native Burma earlier that day, hoping to visit his mother, who has cancer. But according to friends waiting at the baggage claim, he never arrived. In all likelihood, agents of the military junta seized him. Nyi Nyi is an American citizen, I thought. How could this happen? Then, it hit me: I might never see him again.

I called the US embassy in Rangoon; I wrote to our congressional representatives. And I waited. On September 20, 17 days after Nyi Nyi disappeared, the junta acknowledged his arrest. The charge, according to the state-run newspaper, was “plotting riots and sabotage”. I felt sick but not surprised: although Nyi Nyi has always been a nonviolent activist, the junta will say anything to justify its actions. Then, after the embassy was allowed a brief visit, I learned the worst: he was tortured. He was denied food for over a week. Kicked in his face. Beaten on his back. Not allowed to sleep.
As a peaceful participant in the 1988 Burmese student protests, Nyi Nyi had once before been detained and tortured by the junta. I, too, had been involved in the student uprising and fled to Thailand after the brutal August 1988 military crackdown. That’s where Nyi Nyi and I met. While in Thailand, he worked with organisations helping refugees, while continuing to advocate on behalf of Burmese democracy and human rights. continue

NLD keen on holding CEC plenary meet

Wednesday, 30 December 2009 13:34 Myint Maung

New Delhi (Mizzima) – The National League for Democracy party is keen on holding its CEC plenary meeting with all 11 members for reorganizing and expansion of the CEC.

“This is related to our party’s future plan so the regime must permit us. Even if they don’t allow us we will hold the meeting when the political parties’ registration law and other related laws and regulations are declared,” party spokesman Khin Maung Swe told Mizzima.

“If the junta does not allow us to hold such a meeting, the current CEC must go ahead with the plan and inform Aung San Suu Kyi,” he added.

Ageing party leaders Chairman Aung Shwe, Secretary U Lwin and CEC member Lun Tin agreed to expand the current CEC when they met Daw Aung San Suu Kyi on December 16 at Green Bank State Guest House in Rangoon.

Aung San Suu Kyi who has been detained for over 14 of the past 20 years sent a letter to the junta supremo Senior Gen. Than Shwe in November, requesting him to let her meet all 11 CEC members including detained Vice-Chairman Tin Oo. But she has not yet been allowed to meet the CEC members.

Though the party elders agreed to expand and reorganize the current CEC, they could not take a final decision without holding a plenary CEC meeting because they are awaiting permission from the military regime, Khin Maung Swe said.
On December 9 the NLD announced the list of current CEC members. They are Aung Swhe (Chairman), Tin Oo (Vice-Chairman), Aung San Suu Kyi (General Secretary), U Lwin (Secretary) and members Win Tin, Than Tun, Soe Myint, Hla Pe, Lun Tin, Nyunt Wei and Khin Maung Swe.