Myanmar and Thailand have signed a memorandum of understanding to permit the Italian-Thai Development public company (ITD) to begin work on the Dawei deep sea port infrastructure project in 2018.
The original project started in 2008 and was set to build and develop a port, a highway to and from Myanmar and Thailand, industrial zones, office buildings, residential buildings and other infrastructure. However, the project never took off due to the large scale of the project.
The Dawei Special Economic Zone Management Committee convened in August 2015 and March 2016 and have agreed to allow Italian-Thai Plc. and other related companies to begin working on the area for the deep sea port. The deep sea port measures 27 square kilometers, while the total project area is 196 square kilometers.
The Dawei SEZ Management Committee was formed on 12 October 2016 with members of the Special Economic Zone Central Management Committee and foreign experts. Dr. Tun Naing, the Union Minister for Electricity and Power, was elected as the Dawei SEZ Management Committee’s chairman.
Before the project can begin, the group of companies led by Italian-Thai Plc. will need to do a report on the social and natural environment of Dawei. They will also need to legalise the lease of the lands in the area for the project. Then they will have to wait for a notice to proceed from the Dawei SEZ Management Committee to begin the project.
The Ministry for Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation has given affirmation for seven of the 10 reports for the social and natural environment in September and November 2017. The Ministry will reportedly approve the remaining three reports this month.
A meeting to discuss the legalisation of the leases began in January and is expected to reach a conclusion by 30 April.
The budget for the construction of the highway to and from Thailand’s border will be provided by the Thai Government in the form of a low-interest loan. Myanmar’s Ministry of Construction and Thailand’s Department of Highways have officially measured the length of the highway.
On 4 July 2015, Myanmar, Thailand and Japan signed a memorandum of intent (MOI) which allows the three countries to use Dawei SEZ Development Co. Ltd as a special purpose vehicle. They will also detail a master plan for the pilot project and conduct a feasibility study for construction of the highway.
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is conducting a survey for the deep sea port project, including setting up an electrical grid, basic infrastructure and buildings which will begin after the pilot project is completed. JICA said it hopes to complete the survey by June.
On 19 January, a public awareness campaign was held to promote transparency on the project. Dr. Tun Naing, the Chairman of Dawei SEZ Management Committee, said the Ministry of Electricity and Power collaborated with the Tanintharyi Region Government and installed 12 gas engines that supply 12 megawatts of electricity to the Dawei SEZ. The chairman, however, remarked it was not enough.
“There was a plan to supply electricity to Dawei during the previous administration. The plan was a joint collaboration between Italian-Thai, Shell Co. Ltd and LNG Plus. The plan was a joint collaboration between Italian-Thai, Shell Co. Ltd and LNG Plus. However, the cost was too high and the project’s scope was limited to just Dawei’s SEZ”, he said
He also said the Union Government has plans for the development of both Dawei and Myeik areas in the Tanintharyi Region. He said their Ministry is in negotiations with Asia Development Bank to acquire a loan at a low interest rate.
He said if the budget is acquired then they will begin construction of two 230KV electric stations in Yay City and Dawei. The station in Yay will draw power from Mawlamyine’s station and be sent to the station in Dawei. He said the project is estimated to take 2 years to finish and they expect to begin in 2019.
Dr. Tun Naing said connecting to the national grid via Yay and Mawlamyine is the first plan. The second plan involves forming a joint venture company with Total S.A, a French multinational integrated oil and gas company, and Siemens AG, a German conglomerate with a division in the energy sector. The company would be based in Kanpauk and import LNG gas by ship. The ship would dock in Kanpauk’s vicinity and send the LNG via pipelines to Kanpauk, where it will power two engines to produce 1,230 megawatts of energy. From there the electricity would be sent to Dawei, situated south of Kanpauk.
Dr. Tun Naing said if both plans to supply electricity to Dawei are completed, then 500KV from the Kanpauk project can be sent to Payargyi via Mawlamyine, which in turn will benefit Kayin, Mon, Bago and Yangon Region.
The Dawei SEZ aims to become Southeast Asia’s largest industrial and trade zone. Upon its completion it will connect Dawei with Bangkok, Phnom Penh and Ho Chi Min City. Furthermore it would also serve as a gate for India, Africa and Europe to access Myanmar.
Shin Min, Mhwe Kyu