China-Myanmar Oil, Gas Project Benefits Both
The China-Myanmar crude oil and gas pipeline, a pioneer project of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, has brought tangible benefits to both sides, and won broad support.
The pipeline project consists of a crude oil pipeline and a natural gas pipeline, which run from the port of Kyaukpyu on Myanmar's west coast to Ruili in China's Yunnan province. The crude oil pipeline was put into formal operation last month, while the gas pipeline went into full operation in 2013.
The project is important for the connectivity and infrastructure construction among the Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar (BCIM) economic corridor, as well as China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
The oil pipeline has a designed annual transport capacity of 22 million tons, while the natural gas pipeline has a designed annual transport capacity of 12 billion cubic meters.
Since the operation of the gas pipeline, the project has brought economic benefits and public interest to Myanmar, including national revenue, investment bonuses and training funds, improving the living standard of the people along the project area.
For instance, Made Island Port in Myanmar's western Rakhine state, where oil off-loading arms were erected, is now an important window of China-Myanmar economic and trade cooperation and a stellar example of luring foreign investment to Myanmar.
"We strongly support this project. There were only four hours of electricity supply per day previously, while we now have electricity around the clock. Before, we used rain water but now we can get purified and clean water. It's very good, very convenient indeed! We really appreciate what they have done," U Hla Kyaw, a villager on the island, told Xinhua earlier.
The natural gas pipeline directly benefits the inhabitants along the pipeline in Myanmar. The natural gas is carried to a gas-operated power plant in Kyaukphyu Township in Rakhine state, easing the shortage of electricity and bringing down electricity charges. Previously, electricity was generated by diesel power.
U Thein Soe, head of Kyaukphyu County, said by having a natural gas pipeline, Kyaukphyu has become the first township to enjoy a 24-hour electricity supply thanks to the gas-operated power plant in Rakhine state.
But there are even more tangible benefits. The island, which used to have no roads, fresh water, mobile phone signal, or even commodities, has been modernized thanks to the project.
The China-Myanmar oil and gas pipeline has effectively driven the development of Myanmar's petrochemical production, raised the degree of local industrialization and electrification, promoted its socio-economic development and created job opportunities.
For China, the project is also beneficial. Since becoming operational in 2013, the China-Myanmar natural gas pipeline has supplied gas to three Chinese provinces - Yunnan, Guizhou and Guangxi - as well as other counties and cities, effectively raising the capability of guaranteeing the supply of more gas to the region.
The project also speeded up the pace of supplying gas to Yunnan.
With such a project, China has realized its hope of opening up an Indian Ocean energy channel and diversify crude oil imports.
The Belt and Road Initiative, comprising the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, aims to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along, and beyond, the ancient Silk Road trade routes.