Political sanctions, one of the world’s longest civil wars and 50-year of isolation during the
military regime, have hampered any foreign investments and developments in the oil industry.
This has also resulted in Myanmar being one of the poorest countries in Southeast Asia, despite its abundant natural resources. After the 2010 general elections and the dissolution of the military junta, Myanmar has opened up for foreign investment. Its natural gas reserves of 1,820 billion cubic feet and crude oil reserves estimated at 139 million barrels, have been attracting oil giants such as Total, Shell, Chevron and others. The major oil operators are still not fully established due to infrastructural shortages, which has led to thousands of workers to keep drilling for oil in the region with almost no financial resources. Unfortunately, the same technology was used during the oil rush in the US in the 1920s. Just like the search for gold and gemstones, the small-scale oil industry is a poverty-driven business, where the individual’s agenda deals exclusively with livelihood and because of this, environmental aspects and occupational safety are neglected.
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