Shwe gas & Myanmar-China oil transport projects (Apr-Jun 2013)


The Shwe natural gas and Myanmar-China oil transport projects are two of Myanmar’s largest energy projects.  Two pipelines running through Myanmar will transport gas from the Shwe fields in Myanmar, and oil from the Middle East and Africa, to China.  The Chinese National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) operates the pipelines, and works with other companies on various aspects of operations.

In September 2011, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre featured a report by Shwe Gas Movement on the alleged human rights abuses taking place during the construction of the pipelines, and sought responses from the companies involved.

With a May 2013 deadline imposed by the companies for the completion of the pipelines, there has been renewed attention on the projects’ human rights impacts.  The construction of a refinery plant in Kunming, Yunnan Province, China, which was reportedly planned in support of the Myanmar-China oil pipeline project faced two major protests over health concerns in May.

In April 2013, EarthRights International (ERI) and Northern Shan Farmers’ Committee (NSFC) published two separate reports detailing alleged human rights impacts that the projects have had so far.

In the photo essay “Selected impacts of the Shwe natural gas & Myanmar-China oil transport projects” ERI reported on the impacts of the projects in Rakhine State and Magway and Mandalay Divisions.  It claimed that villagers have reported cases of local government and military profiteering, land confiscations with no or inadequate compensation, damage to farmers and community land resulting from project-related activities, and damage to fishing areas.  The report also alleged that construction projects have restricted local mobility either in terms of blocking traditional routes or inadequate repair of major roads.

In the report “Shan farmers oppose the Shwe pipelines” the NSFC highlighted alleged impacts on Shan communities, and raised similar concerns relating to lack of information on the projects, and unfair or unequal compensation.  The report also cited fears among villagers of dangerous leaks and explosions due to poor construction.

As a response to these impacts, over 800 residents gathered in a mass protest against CNPC on Maday Island in April 2013.  Ten leaders of the protest action were indicted for protesting “without the permission from the concerned authority.” 

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre sought responses to the reports by ERI and NSFC as well as the news article above reporting on the protest from companies involved in the project.

Company responses/non-responses:

Chinese National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) response: original text in Chinese [PDF] & unofficial English translation provided by Business & Human Rights Resource Centre [PDF]

Daewoo Intenational did not respond.

GAIL response [DOC]

Hyundai Heavy Industries did not respond.

KOGAS did not respond.

Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE) has not sent a response. We will indicate whether the company responds or not in next week’s Update.

Myanmar Golden Crown has not sent a response. We will indicate whether the company responds or not in next week’s Update.

National Energy Group of Companies declined to respond.

ONGC Videsh did not respond.

Punj Lloyd response [DOC]

In June 2013, portions of the Myanmar-China oil pipeline were reportedly still unfinished, despite the May 2013 deadline.  CNPC has not publicly explained the delay, but some news reports suggested it could be due to protests over potential impacts on farmland, environment and public health.