Myanmarese oil explorer keen to invest in India

Yangon, Feb 2 (IANS) A Myanmarese businessman with stakes in South African and Australian offshore oil blocks is keen to invest in diverse sectors in India which is poised to become the world’s fifth largest consumer market by 2030.

But he says India still needs to bring business reforms to attract foreign investments.

“Yes I am looking for some business opportunities in India like trading agricultural products and some kind of consumer goods,” Silver Wave Energy chairman Minn Minn Oung told this visiting IANS correspondent here.

His company, with a turnover of around $10 million, is one of Myanmar’s leading businesses, with interests in mining, renewable/green energy, oil and gas exploration and real estate and hospitality sectors.

Minn Minn, 41, who has business interests in South Africa, Australia, Japan and Singapore, is travelling to India shortly. He has 36 offshore oil blocks in South Africa and small investments in oil blocks in Australia.

“I am planning to visit India very soon,” he said.

According to him, Myanmar needs investment in agriculture, consumer goods, banking, education, medical, real estate and solar and wind energy.

“In India we are keen to invest in energy sectors like solar and oil refinery. Even in the hospitality industry we are looking for investments,” said Minn Minn, whose company had partnered with India’s state-run gas utility GAIL to access offshore blocks in Myanmar.

His investments in his country are over $60 million in mineral and oil exploration.

But he feels Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has to act fast to facilitate foreign investments.

“During the elections, Modi made a loud pitch for business reforms. So far he has failed to resolve foreign investors’ concerns of doing business and investing in India,” he added.

Minn Minn said his company, which is going to be listed in London Stock Exchange (LSE), could manage billions and billions of dollars of investment in India’s oil and gas exploration and production.

India, which is Asia’s third largest economy, is promoting oil exploration to reduce dependence on imports.

At 23 percent of total energy supply, petroleum is India’s second largest source, half the market share of coal, Forbes magazine says.

Boosted by falling crude prices, it says, India is expected to overtake Japan to become the world’s third largest oil consumer, at about 4.1 million b/d (barrels per day).

Since 2005, India has been responsible for 20 percent of incremental global oil demand increase, versus 55 percent for China.

Minn Minn, whose company is going to acquire two LSE-listed oil companies, said there is good demand of medicines, consumer goods and agricultural commodities in Myanmar.

“The Indian companies could set up their bases in Myanmar with local partners that would be helpful getting speedy project clearances,” he said.

About the new democratically elected government in his country that is going to replace the 25-year-old military ruled government, he said: “Let’s wait and watch. We expect the new government would be more open and transparent, which will be better for all, especially the youth who are migrating to China and Malaysia for jobs.”

India’s ministry of agriculture and farmers welfare says in 2014-15, the country exported agricultural commodities worth $84.9 million to Myanmar.

India’s principal exports were soybean oilcake, soybean flour and meals, lentils, wheat, cotton and coffee essence.

India’s agricultural imports from Myanmar, at $845.48 million, mainly comprised moong dal, urad dal, tur dal, chickpeas, betel nuts and turmeric.

The ministry says India’s deficit in agriculture trade with Myanmar is due to the high value pulses, which account for about 98 percent of imports.

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