The Shwe gas field is an offshore natural gas field located in the Bay of Bengal, in the Andaman Sea. The gas field was discovered in 2004, originally developed by South Korea's Daewoo International and production began in 2013. In August 2000, Daewoo signed a production sharing contract with Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE) to explore Burma's sea areas and market any underwater gas reserves found.
The Shwe gas project includes a number of related developments in Myanmar that include facilitation projects for the transport of natural gas and crude oil to Southwestern China. It is the largest extractive project in Myanmar with a possible earning of 54 billion USD for the government. Its goal is to transfer natural gas and oil from Myanmar to China.
The China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) had secured purchasing rights for the natural gas from the blocks explored by Daewoo and MOGE through a 2008 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Myanmar Ministry of Energy. This was then followed by the signing of another MoU in 2009 for CNPC's construction of two 1,200 km overland pipelines traversing two states and two divisions of Myanmar, from Rhakne State, Myanmar to Yunnan Province, China. Along the supply transit routes which are crossing regions where heavy ethnic tensions are taking place, several clashes between the Myanmar army and other ethnic armed groups have happened. In May 2013, two employees of a CNPC subcontractor were shot and killed on a project site related to the Shwe Gas Project.
Local NGOs, such as the Shwe Gas Movement (SGM) and Earth Rights International (ERI), have criticized that only little consultation with impacted communities has been set up and that adverse impacts of the Shwe project had already been documented. The threats posed by the project identified by the Shwe Gas Campaign include forced displacement, forced labour, and other human rights abuses. In April 2013, after a request by SGM and ERI, Daewoo released a Land Acquisition Profile report and stated that the total area of land acquired for the project would be around 37 hectares. However, interviews conducted by the NGOs indicate that more land is lost and destroyed due to side effect of the project. Land seems to have been confiscated along the pipeline route for years until today. Much of the land has been bought at unfair prices, coercing villagers into signing confusing or complicated contracts in their non-native languages, also taking into account that some of the local residents are illiterate. A Land Investigation Commission was established in 2012 to shed light on unfair acquisitions, but findings have not been publicly released. During 2011 and 2012, many communities have taken efforts to protect their lands from the project by sending letters to the company after land confiscations had occurred. Most of them did not receive any reply or compensation. Next to the land-grabbing, villagers also reported illegal waste dumping that has deeply affected and decreased local fish population that residents depend on. In April 2013, 23 heads of households whose land had been damaged by contractors complained to the contractor and received no response. When they made an appeal to state authorities, an investigation commission was established. When the commission was said to have already investigated the claims, more than 100 villagers were still awaiting recourse.
On 10 May 2013, ten Arakanese activists who participated in peaceful protest opposing the CNPC project were facing criminal charges for demonstrating and holding a peaceful march without a permit on 18 April in Myanmar's Arakan State. Over the course of 2013, many land rights activists have been arrested and prosecuted under the 2011 Law Relating to Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession by Myanmar authorities, although the exact number remains unclear. Another issue concerning the project is that the Environmental and Social Impact Assessments have never been publicly released and that their findings remain undisclosed. In June 2013, CNPC reportedly missed its 30 May target to finish the oil and gas pipeline projects. Constructions on the project seemed to have been slowed down by protests. The first production gas from the project was achieved in July 2013 and commercial production started in August 2013. In January 2014, production started form the Shwe gas field and the production cycle is expected to last until 2020. ---------------Updates 22th of May 2017------------------------------- On Fisherfolk aboard 120 boats protested along the Thanzit River against the Maday Island deep seaport in Arakan State on Monday, as authorities have banned them from fishing in a stretch of water now reserved for international cargo ships docking at the port. There are restrictions for the fisherforlk of keeping distance from parts of the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC)-owned seaport, including the jetty and crude oil storage area. “There is no space for our fishing boats as the huge oil carriers come into the river and dock at Maday harbor,”said one of the protest organizers.