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February 27, 2018

Oil wells drying up along Rakhine State coastline

Oil wells are seen at Rakhine coastline near Kyaukphyu.
Oil wells are seen at Rakhine coastline near Kyaukphyu.

ACCORDING to oil well workers working along the Rakhine coastline of Kyaukpyu, the volume of crude oil they can extract using machinery has diminished by around fifty per cent since the middle of 2015, the start of Myanmar’s rainy season.
During the summer months of 2015 prior to the rainy season, an average of two barrels of oil could be extracted from an oil well every three days. Now however, the extraction capacity of oil wells is just half that volume, one barrel every three days. Local oil well workers suspect the Chinese and Korean Shwe Gas project could be the cause of the diminishing of oil supply.
“It can be analyzed that the decline in the amount of oil which can be extracted is a resulting factor of disturbances to the layers of earth under the ground, caused by extraction of the Chinese oil and gas plants. Since not even one barrel of oil can be extracted in two days of labor, how will families have enough food to eat?” said a local independent oil worker, U Maung Shwe Mra.
An oil well worker can expect to earn a daily wage of 4,000 kyats (approx $3). Normally, three workers are hired to dig an oil well of between 300 – 400 feet deep which usually takes one or two months to dig, with incurred machinery and labour expenses ranging between 200,000 – 400,000 kyats (approx $155 – $310), while it is known that the average lifespan of an oil well lasts between 5 and 7 years.
The Kyaukpyu coastline boasts over 2,000 oil wells in six different work sites in the areas of Mala Kyun, Leinhkamaw, Yaynantaung and Kyaung Wa. The majority of local residents make a living from the inherited family tradition of oil extraction more than traditional forms of livelihood such as agriculture and fishing.
According the statements of local oil well workers, the golden age of oil enterprise along the Kyaukpyu coastline was back between 1995 – 2000 when a whole barrel of oil could be extracted from an oil well daily.


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