The opening up of Myanmar’s economy after decades of isolation has led to a jump in oil demand, attracting local and foreign investors to build oil storage tanks and a terminal to meet rising consumption.
Here are some details on the country’s oil sector.
Fuel demand rose more than 5 percent to over 40,700 barrels per day (bpd) in the fiscal year to March, energy ministry data shows. But traders say undocumented fuel flows, particularly smuggled in from Thailand, may mean the rise was more like 20-25 percent.
Myanmar relies on oil imports, with the private sector importing more than 24,990 bpd in the last fiscal year. Denko and Myawaddy Trading are among the biggest local importers, each buying about 7,450 bpd last year, traders say.
According to government data, Myanmar imported about 15,825 bpd of fuel in the last fiscal year, with diesel accounting for nearly half, gasoline just over a third and jet fuel the rest.
Industry estimates are higher, putting seaborne diesel imports at 37,250-62,083 bpd in 2013 and up to 20,000 bpd of gasoline imported in the second half of 2013.
State-owned Myanmar Petrochemical Enterprise operates three small refineries and wants investors to upgrade. Two barely function while a third – the 1,500-bpd Thanlyin plant – operates at only just over half its capacity, processing local condensate to make low-quality gasoline, traders say.
Thailand’s largest refiner Thai Oil Pcl is proposing building a 150,000-bpd refinery in the country as part of a deal to upgrade two existing refineries.
Only small-sized tankers, which carry about 6,000-10,000 tonnes of oil, can enter the shallow Yangon River estuary to reach the Yangon and Thilawa ports designated to receive oil.
Gasoline is shipped in 6,000-tonne lots to the Thilawa port which is then transferred on to trucks for distribution. For diesel, partially loaded medium ranged-sized vessels carry out ship-to-ship transfers into barges, which travel up to 10 days to Mandalay before they are loaded on to trucks for distribution. Typically it takes a day to unload a cargo due to a need to wait for high tide to avoid a risk of hitting sandbanks.
New oil terminals and storage
Puma Energy, a subsidiary of global trading firm Trafigura and Angolan state oil company Sonangol, is building an oil terminal and storage tanks in a tie-up with Asia Sun.
When completed in mid-2015, the terminal will be able to handle medium-size vessels, which can carry about 30,000 tonnes of oil, and there will be up to 88,000 cubic metres of storage for bitumen, gasoline, gasoil and jet fuel, the company said.
Myint Zaw, a director at the energy ministry, said three or four local firms had received approval so far for fuel oil storage projects in Yangon, ranging in size from 400,000 to 500,000 gallons (14,000-17,000 tonnes).
Companies planning to lease land offered for oil storage include Denko and Myawaddy Trading, Newday, MaxMyanmar, MMTM and Greenluck, according to industry sources.