China Building Massive Energy Lifeline Through Myanmar
From Global Post
HSIPAW, Myanmar — The Sino-Burmese Pipeline is a massive, $2.5 billion project intended to ensure China’s energy security well into the 21st century. It follows the Burma Road up from the Irrawaddy River plain through the Shan Hills and finally, into China.
When completed, the pipeline’s double-barreled conduits will annually deliver 22 million tons of oil and 12 billion cubic meters of gas to destinations within China’s Yunnan Province.
Much of this will be used to alleviate the severe oil shortages that strike the fast-growing Yunnan with increasing regularity. The rest of it will be processed and refined inside the region, then shipped on to other, equally oil-thirsty regions within China.
We came upon the pipeline just outside Mandalay, no more than 20 minutes after leaving the airport. We were somewhat wary as our driver slowly snaked up into the foothills of the Shan Mountains, unsure of what to expect.
The activist group EarthRights International has documented human rights abuses connected to the construction of the pipeline. Whole villages had reportedly been razed and their occupants forced to toil on the very project depriving them of their homes.
“There are at least 28 Burmese Army battalions stations in the area of the Burma-China pipelines,” the organization noted in a 2010 report.
We hadn’t travelled more than ten kilometers when we came over a shallow rise to see three backhoes cutting a giant gash that ran across the road, down a slight decline, then straight up what seemed to be a vertical rock face. The driver slowed to navigate through the construction, and we told him to pull to the side of the road and stop.