According to reports, Myanmar's military junta is selling natural gas from Rakhine to China for more than USD 1.43 billion in 2022.
Huge oil and gas profits have continued to flow to and support Myanmar's military junta since its bloody crackdown on nationwide opposition to the February 2021 coup, according to opposition and rights groups.
Despite the fact that successive Myanmar governments export Rakhine's natural resources to China for billions of dollars each year, Rakhine state is the second poorest in Myanmar and has one of the highest unemployment rates, according to sources.
In 2022, the Junta exported and sold billions of dollars worth of natural gas from Rakhine to China. According to BETV Business News, a Chinese customs department statement about the gas produced by the offshore Shwe natural gas project in Rakhine and sold to China via the Myanmar-China natural gas pipeline.
South-East Asia Gas Pipeline Company Limited (SEAGP) manages the Myanmar-China natural gas pipeline, while South-East Asia Crude Oil Pipeline Company manages the crude oil pipeline (SEAOP).
The gas pipeline, which cost around USD 1 billion to build, was designed to distribute and transport 12 billion cubic metres of gas per year.
Per the sources, natural gas produced offshore in Rakhine is sent to China's Yunnan State via a gas pipeline that runs through Magway, Mandalay, and Shan states.
Aside from the gas, there is also the 771-kilometer-long crude oil pipeline from Kyauk Phyu to Yunnan State, which was built at a cost of more than USD 1.5 billion and is designed to transport 22 million tonnes of crude oil per year.
According to sources, Myanmar Oil and Natural Gas Enterprise (MOGE) owns 7.36 percent of the shares in the China-Myanmar gas pipeline project and up to 49.1 percent of the shares in the oil pipeline project.
According to the report, Myanmar is among the countries that export the most natural gas to China, ranking third after Turkmenistan and Russia.
According to Ben Hardman, Myanmar policy and legal adviser for EarthRights International, a US-based pressure group that studies the country's energy sector, "access to foreign currency is critical" for the junta.
"If you want to purchase weapons, aviation fuel, these essential items to continue waging war against the Myanmar people, it needs access to US dollars or international currencies," he said.
Since the coup, the US and other Western countries have imposed multiple rounds of sanctions on Myanmar's top generals and arms brokers, as well as some of the state-owned enterprises suspected of earning money for the military, according to Voice of America.
To date, however, they have largely ignored the most profitable of those companies, the Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise.