(Bloomberg) -- Chinese companies operating in Myanmar’s electricity generation sector have asked the junta for assistance in importing liquefied natural gas from Russia, news outlet Frontier Myanmar reported Thursday.
Citing a leaked memo from the junta’s Ministry of Electric Power in July, the magazine reported that Chinese companies involved in power project requested but failed to get “help” to import Russian LNG following a supply and cash crunch.
Hong Kong-listed VPower Group International Holdings Ltd. and China National Technical Import and Export Corp. are in a joint venture power plant project that involved importing LNG cargoes. The companies signed a five-year power purchasing pact with Myanmar’s Electric Power Generation Enterprise in 2020.
The Chinese companies are the latest to feel the pinch from sanctions leveled against Myanmar and its lucrative energy sector after the junta seized control of the country in a coup last year.
“We contacted Russia to buy LNG but they do not want to sell directly to a company, they only want to sell government-to-government,” the companies said in a memo that was cited by Frontier, adding that a meeting took place on July 25. “At present, we are having difficulty getting LNG and US dollars.”
VPower denied it was involved in LNG procurement, saying the company didn’t have business dealings with any Russian entities. CNTIC and its parent company, China General Technology Co., didn’t immediately respond to emailed requests for comment.
Major General Zaw Min Tun, the lead spokesman for the State Administration Council did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Soe Myint, director general at the Ministry of Electric Power, said discussions are underway for “all these issues” but denied that there were direct requests to import LNG from Russia.
Shunned by most other countries, Myanmar’s military government has drawn closer to Russia with junta leader Min Aung Hlaing visiting the country twice since July. During his latest trip earlier this month he heralded budding ties and heaped praise on Vladimir Putin “as a leader of the world.”
The two nations agreed to use the barter system for Myanmar’s fertilizer imports from Russia while its fuel oil purchases from the country will be paid in ruble.
The central banks of Myanmar and Russia are also in discussions about direct payments in ruble and kyat. The Southeast Asian nation will soon allow the use of Mir cards, a Russian card payment system for electronic fund transfers, and enable Bank of Russia’s messaging system to facilitate bilateral trade and investment.
(Updates with Ministry of Electric Power spokesman and VPower response)
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