February 26: A significant quantity of crude oil has been oozing out of the ground in Arakan’s Manaung Island since the beginning of November last year, said a local eyewitness.
After word about the seeping crude oil spread among locals, many villagers turned up on the spot to drill for oil using a traditional hand drilling system, without notifying the local authorities.
“I think over 1,000 local people are now involved in drilling for crude oil and there are about 300 to 500 hand-drilled oil wells. However, the local people are drilling the oil secretly,” he said.
The locals have been processing the crude oil themselves to convert it into petroleum in the jungle, and then sending it to local markets in Kyaukpru and Taungup.
The eye witness said the area is a little off the town of Manaung, and takes an hour to reach by foot.Â People know the area is in Ohn Phyr Chaung near the villages of Ohn Kyunt and Si Byint Gri Village in Manaung Township.
However, the authorities have now got wind of it and are preparing to occupy the area after villagers who are drilling for oil are driven out, the eye witness said.
It is learnt that during the last three months villagers earned a lot of money from the oil selling it in local markets.Â The crude oil is still oozing and many locals are worried that the “oil field” will be forcibly occupied by the Burmese military authorities soon.