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An offshore supply base slated for Mon State stirs up local contentions

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Residents have made their objections known, but that hasn’t deterred a company set on erecting an offshore supply base in the Gulf of Mottama near Mon State’s Ye township.

Forever Thanlwin Company Ltd.’s managing director U Zaw Min Aung expressed certainty that the project will move forward, but not without first obtaining the public’s support. Bridging the seemingly diametrically opposed aims has proved somewhat of a challenge, however.

Petroleum and natural gas offshore supply base (Photo/Internet)
We don’t intend to carry it out without the public’s view. But, the public needs to listen and pay attention when we explain the projects and tasks we are going to carry out. If the project … harms the regional interest or the environment, or [if it] creates disadvantages … please point it out and discuss with us. Our aim is to implement [the project] after solving the issues that can be solved,” he said.

The company attempted to make inroads with the community during a planned May 20 public consultation. But the event was cancelled due to objections from local residents, who appear to have already made up their minds.

Mi Ni Mar Oo, from Anndin Village’s Youth Group, said local residents are fresh off a battle against a coal-fired power plant. Though that project has been suspended, they are not ready to accept another potentially deleterious proposal in their area, she said.

“Monks, community elders, local residents and youth gathered on March 23 and made a decision about the offshore supply base,” Mi Ni Mar Oo said. “We are not ready to accept any kind of investment, whether it is this offshore supply base or the coal project. As we have already made our decision, we won’t recognize any [of the company’s] meetings. We won’t permit a public briefing.”

Forever Thanlwin Company Ltd wants to build the offshore supply base on 68.11 acres of land in Anndin Da Min Seik Village. The project would require a US$63 million initial investment.

During a meeting in Nay Pyi Daw on July 11, the Myanmar Investment Commission supported the idea of expanding offshore supply bases with Myanmar Offshore Supply Based Limited set to sell work equipment to offshore petroleum businesses including diesel, according to the Mon State’s Ministry of Electricity, Energy, and Industry.

“I think [the local residents] suspect us of using coal power which will harm the environment. We have no plans concerning coal,” said U Zaw Min Aung.

“We will only use up to three megawatts of power,” he added. “Luckily, we can buy the electricity from the Sea Guard Company … so we don’t even need to use [an electricity generating] machine.”

The Pharlain Region United Association, a community-based organization, held met at a local monastery on October 18 to discuss the offshore base.

Min Aung Myo Oo, a local resident who attended the meeting, said a ten-page report will be drafted within a month after consulting with experts.

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