Puma Energy, the fuel storage and petrol station business majority-owned by Swiss commodities trading house Trafigura, is leveraging on Myanmar’s growing energy demand from a fast-expanding economy with the opening of a US$92 million oil and gas terminal.
The terminal officially opened for business over the weekend at the port of Thilwa outside Yangon, Myanmar’s commercial capital.
The terminal, built by Puma Energy and its local partner Asia Sun, is expected to increase energy imports after a disappointing decline in foreign investment under the new democratic government that took office in March last year.
Puma Energy Asia Sun General Manager David Holden said it would cut import costs on products ranging from jet fuel to petrol and bitumen, which is used to make roads. During an interview, he said Myanmar is where the need is and that is what drove the investment, estimating that fuel demand in the country may grow around 5% annually in the coming years.
Foreign investment in Myanmar initially surged as the country began overhauling its economy after almost half a century of military rule ended in 2011.But a lack of clarity on the new government’s economic policies and a backlog of approvals contributed to a 30% slump in investment in the financial year through March.
The biggest fall was in the oil and gas sector, which is controlled by state-owned Myanmar Oil & Gas Enterprise.
But last month, China launched a crude oil pipeline linking its southeastern province of Yunnan to the Bay of Bengal on Myanmar’s west coast, after years of delays.Beijing, which helped shield Myanmar’s former junta from international sanctions, has led the way in the race to exploit the country’s lucrative energy and gem reserves.
Puma Energy, headquartered in Singapore, is one of three foreign firms in the final round of bidding to run part of Myanmar’s petrol distribution market along with the Ministry of Energy.It also wants a license to operate petrol stations and supply them independently after new investment laws loosened restrictions for foreign companies.
Holden said the company would focus on the corridor between Yangon and Mandalay, where he estimated retail sales could reach some 1.5 billion liters of fuel a year.