The major shareholders in the Myanmar-China oil and natural gas pipelines have promised to investigate complaints from non-government organisations over land acquisitions, environmental degradation and other issues related to the construction of the pipelines.
Representatives of the Myanmar-China Pipeline Watch Committee, a grouping of 14 community-based organisations, also made nine recommendations concerning the project, including improving transparency and the safety of nearby communities.
The director of public relations department at China National Petroleum Corporation’s South East Asia Crude Oil Pipeline Co Ltd and South East Asia Gas Pipeline Co Ltd, the major shareholders in the two pipelines, said the companies “paid much attention” to the issues raised by the committee and have started investigating specific complaints.
“If those issues are true, we will systematically solve those problems in conformity with the law in Myanmar. If there is misunderstanding in those problems, we will provide the actual information,” he said.
U Tin Thit, president of Seinyaungso environmental group, one of the members of the committee, said last month that the recommendations along with a situation report compiled during November and December will be sent to the president, relevant government departments and companies involved the project.
The report was released after the 14 organisations held a meeting in Yangon from December 20 to 22.
U Tin Thit said the pipeline’s owners had already acted on some earlier complaints, while the government had also recently been more forthcoming with information about the terms of the project.
“The minister for energy discussed the concerns about the pipeline project in the Amyotha Hluttaw on November 9. We also found some repair works had been done by the pipeline company at places in Mandalay Region where roads and drinking water ponds had been damaged during construction. The company also gave compensation for land temporarily taken for the project in Natogyi and Tada Oo townships in Mandalay Region. But there are still many issues happening along the pipeline route,” he said.
The study said there are still many problems that need to be resolved, such as land acquisitions, environmental degradation, human rights and labour issues, and transportation difficulties related to roads damaged during construction.
The public relations director said some of the concerns on pipeline safety raised in the report are based on “misunderstanding”.
“When we met MCPWC … in October, they raised questions concerning the depth of the buried pipeline. I answered that the deepest areas are more than 5 metres (15 feet) deep. That doesn’t mean the pipeline will be buried 15-feet deep everywhere. The depth will depend on the geological conditions but it is sure that the pipeline will be at least 1.2m (4 feet) below the surface … normally 1.2m is a safe depth for pipeline,” he said.
The committee’s report expressed concerns that the pipeline is buried at a depth of between 4 and 5 feet in some rocky areas of Kyaukme township, Shan State.