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Energy dependence on Burma

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An energy dependence on natural gas from Burma looms in Thailand's future. The time to start planning is now. 

Yadana Gas Fields

The Yadana offshore gas fields owned by Burma will supply a larger and larger portion of Thailand's energy needs in the future unless gas reserves in the Gulf of Thailand shared with Cambodia can be developed (Read previous articles on overlapping reserves with Cambodia: #1 and #2).

A network of pipelines deliver natural gas from Burma to Thailand (See a map of the pipelines also map for all of Southeast Asia ).

The following extract is from a longer article that also deals with the issue of immigration of migrant labour from Burma to Thailand. The full version can be read here.

Click button to listen to Energy Dependence on Burma and rightclick to download

THAI-BURMA RELATIONS: Economic dependence subjugates policy by Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Director of the Institute of Security and International Studies 


...Thailand needs to come up with a longer-term energy outlook and a forward-looking immigration policy

The port deal at Dawei (Tavoy) [in Burma] should be seen as part of a broader package of Thailand's growing energy dependence on Burma. More than 70% of Thai electricity generation derives from natural gas, and nearly half of that portion is imported from Burma's gas pipelines, with the rest made up of coal, hydro and petroleum sources. Renewable energy sources such as wind and solar are negligible. Nuclear power would be a viable alternative, as Vietnam's imminent construction of two nuclear power plants attests.

But for Thailand, nuclear power will need broad-based public discussions and hearings to promote trust and confidence and allay civil society concerns. Nuclear power is thus many years in the distance - if it ever materialises.

Thailand, in short, is beset by energy insecurity. On a per-capita basis, Thailand's electricity consumption is in the range of the developed economies in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). And its foreseeable energy future is reliant on natural gas. Until it can tap into reserves in unexplored areas in the Gulf of Thailand, particularly the overlapping claims with Cambodia, Thailand's gas dependence on Burma will grow.

In turn, such dependence will constrain Thai foreign policy vis-a-vis Burma.

The fluid and precarious post-election interplay in Burma should prompt Thai leaders to start thinking about longer-term energy security...

The writer is Director of the Institute of Security and International Studies, Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University

(Source: Bangkok Post, THAI-BURMA RELATIONS, Economic dependence subjugates policy, 17/11/2010, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Director of the Institute of Security and International Studies, link)  

energy -  a supply of physical power that can be used to do things that require physical force พลังงาน
power - energy in the form of electricity produced in large quantities and used to operate lights, machines, and heating
source of power - the method used to create energy and electricity (power generation): coal, gas, hydropower, etc...
plant, factory - a large building with machines used to produce large quantities of goods
power plant -  the place where power is produced or generated 
coal-fired power plant - a place for generating power from coal

reserves - a supply kept for future use, keeping something for a particular purpose or time สำรอง
overlapping - (of areas of land) covering parts of each other ที่คาบเกี่ยวกัน
Yadana gas fields - gas fields off the coast of Burma that supply a large percentage of Thailand's energy needs (See Wikipedia)

coal power - using coal to generate electricity (See Wikipedia)
hydropower - using the fast moving water in rivers to generate electricity (See Wikipedia)
hydroelectricity -
the electricity produced by hydropower (See Wikipedia)
petroleum - oil
renewable energy
- "energy which comes from natural resources such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, and geothermal heat, which are renewable (naturally replenished)" also "small hydro, modern biomass, wind, solar, geothermal, and biofuels" (See Wikipedia)
wind power - electricity generated at very windy places, with the wind driving wind turbines (See Wikipedia)
wind turbine - a device that extracts energy from the wind (See Wikipedia)
solar - involving the sun เกี่ยวกับดวงอาทิตย์
solar power - electricity generated from the energy of the sun shining down on the earth (See Wikipedia)
nuclear power -
generating electricity with expensive nuclear power plants, that can also be dangerous (See Wikipedia)
nuclear power plant - a special plant used to generate electricity from nuclear energy in a nuclear reactor (See Wikipedia on nuclear reactor)

dependence (noun) - cannot do without, need การพึ่งพาอาศัย
dependent (adjective) - need something for continued  existence
subjugates - gain control after military operation, conquer, overcome, suppress ปราบปราม, เอาชน
policy - a set of ideas and plans used for making decisions นโยบาย (See Wikipedia)
come up with - make or create something (that requires new ideas, imagination and creativity)
outlook - what people think will happen in the future, whether the future will be good or bad อนาคตที่คาดไว้, ภาพรวม อนาคต
forward-looking - looking at and thinking about the future
immigration - 1. people coming into a country to travel, live, and work there, 2. the controls that governments place on flows of people into the country การย้ายถิ่นฐาน
port - an area of water where ships stop, including the buildings around it ท่าเรือ
electricity generation - the process of creating electricity from some energy source (natural gas, coal, nuclear, etc)
X derives from Y -
X comes from Y
natural gas -
a fuel in the form of a gas used for heating, cooking, and to generate electricity (power) in gas and steam turbines (See Wikipedia)
portion - a part of something ส่วน

negligible - very small or unimportant ซึ่งไม่สลักสำคัญ
power - energy in the form of electricity produced in large quantities and used to operate lights, machines, and heating
viable - able to work as intended or able to succeed ซึ่งใช้การได้ (แผนการ, คำแนะนำ) ซึ่งประสบผลสำเร็จได้
viable - capable of survival and continued existence, can succeed and not fail, capable of doing what it is supposed to do
alternative - one possible choice or option ตัวเลือก / ทางเลือก
imminent - expected to happen soon ในไม่ช้า จวนเจียน จวนตัว
construction - the work of building or making something, especially buildings, bridges, etc. การก่อสร้าง
X attests to Y - X shows that Y is possible 

broad - wide กว้างขวาง
hearings - an official meeting to collect facts about a situation or problem
broad-based public discussions - when the government involves many different kinds of people and groups in society talk about a policy and express their concerns, before actually implementing the policy
promote - help create
trust - when people believe in each other and have confidence in each other (so they can work together effectively) ความเชื่อมั่น
confidence - trusting and believing in something, feeling sure about it  ความมั่นใจ, ความเชื่อมั่น
allay - to make some feel less of something, like worry, fear or doubt ขจัดความสงสัย ขจัดความกังวล
civil society -
all the voluntary organizations and institutions in society such as NGOs, community organisations, clubs, unions, policy institutes, think tanks, environmental groups, not the force-backed structures of the government (See Wikipedia)
concerns - worries ความกังวล
materialises - comes into existence

in short - to summarize, to say something in a very short form or way
beset - to cause someone difficult or danger over a period of time รุมเร้าด้วยปัญหา
insecurity - having little confidence; uncertain about whether other people really like you
X per Y - for every Y there are X (examples: income in the country is $10,000 per year, every year people in the country make $10,000)
per capita - per person (from Latin: meaning "per head")
on a per-capita basis - measured per person (dividing by the number of people in the country, rather than the whole amount)
consumption - money spent by households and families on goods and services (See Wikipedia) การบริโภค
X is in the range Y - X is at about the same level as things in group Y

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) - an international organisation of thirty countries that accept the principles of representative democracy and free market economy: Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States, Japan, Finland, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Czech Republic, South Korea, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia (See Wikipedia)

the foreseeable future - the period of time in the future that you can predict what will happen well (and therefore plan for this)
reliance on X -
a situation where you really need X, cannot do without X 
X reliant on Y - X needs Y to function and operate
tap into - use

constrain - restrict or limit
X vis-a-vis Y - X in relation to Y, X in comparison to Y
fluid - situation which is changing all the time (with many different outcomes possible)
precarious - not in control, may fail anytime, unstable and uncertain
election - the process of choosing a person or a group of person for a position, especially by voting elect (v) electoral (adj) synonym: the polls การเลือกตั้ง
post-election - after the election
prompt - to cause someone to take action กระตุ้น
security - activity of providing safety from attack, harm or damage ความปลอดภัย
energy security - government policy that makes sure there is enough energy to keep a country's economy operating and growing

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