Carefully scheduled power outages were supposed to spread the pain and make it manageable for Yangonites, but anyone in sections of the city who suffered through most of today without electricity can tell you it hasn’t been nearly enough amid the rising energy demands of the hot season.
Today’s unscheduled outages in the Shwe Taung, Ahlone, Ywar Ma, Thilawa, and Hlaw Ga neighborhoods are being chalked up by the Yangon Electricity Supply Corporation (YESC) to the “emergency shutdown” of two compressor stations in the offshore Yadana gas field in the Andaman ocean.
Due to record breaking pre-monsoon heat, water levels at the country’s hydropower plants — which supply an estimated 75% percent of Myanmar’s energy — have been dramatically lowered, causing a shortfall in the electricity supply. That in turn has meant increased dependence on liquified natural gas (LNG) to power our electrical stations.
Damage to the national grid and disruptions caused by wildfire and debris have also put a major crimp in power supplies this summer, Electricity and Energy Deputy Minister U Tun Naing, told the Myanmar Times last month.
Just last Thursday, the Ministry of Electricity and Energy had told the public that arrangements were being made to ensure that next summer won’t see a repeat of what we’re experiencing now. Included in that plan is the additional supply of liquified natural gas (LNG) from — you guessed it — the same Yadana gas field where the two compressor stations were shut down.
According to the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia, natural gas demand is set to more than double from 457 million cubic feet per day in 2017 to more than a billion cubic feet per day by 2040.
Myanmar is looking to meet this demand by green-lighting three new LNG-powered electrical plants in Kanbauk in Tanintharyi Region, Mee Laung Gyaing in Ayeyarwady Region, and Ahlone in Yangon Region. A fourth project, planned for Kyaukphyu in Rakhine State, will run on natural gas that’s in a non-liquified state.