Gasoline and diesel imports to Myanmar (Burma) have fallen by up to 40pc because of intensifying political unrest in the country, according to market estimates.

Imports of gasoil have fallen by around 30-40pc from typical levels of 50,000-80,000 b/d, while gasoline imports are down by 20-30pc from an average of 50,000 b/d, traders said. The drop follows a military takeover in Myanmar on 1 February, which has sparked street protests across the country and a widespread civil disobedience campaign that has led many businesses to close.

Myanmar buys most of its transport fuel from Singapore. Export data from government agency IE Singapore show combined gasoline and diesel shipments to Myanmar at around 76,000 b/d in February, largely unchanged from January. But, according to estimates of cargo arrivals from Vortexa, total gasoline and diesel imports to Myanmar fell by over half to 60,000 b/d last month from 128,000 b/d in January. A lack of customs data from Myanmar makes it hard to assess volumes.

Rising concerns about vessel insurance and difficulties opening letters of credit with banks in Myanmar are complicating trade, Singapore market participants said. Several trading firms have pulled back from supplying the country although Chinese state-controlled firm PetroChina, a leading supplier to Myanmar, is helping to fill the supply gap, they said.

Vortexa data show just three vessels heading to the country. Two tankers carrying a combined 240,000 bl of gasoil from Singapore are due to arrive in the commercial capital of Yangon later this week, while one other smaller vessel with around 8,000 bl is on route from the UAE. Myanmar tends to import products on smaller ships.

Companies doing business in Myanmar may come under further scrutiny following an increasingly bloody crackdown by security forces on anti-coup protestors. At least 38 people were killed yesterday following 18 deaths on 28 February, according to UN figures. The situation “challenges the stability of the region” and could lead to a “real war”, UN special envoy for Myanmar Christine Schraner Burgener said.

Several energy companies have already halted operations because of safety concerns. Downstream and midstream firm Puma Energy, which is part-owned by global trading firm Trafigura, has suspended operations at its oil products terminal at Thilawa near the commercial capital of Yangon. The terminal is Myanmar’s largest, with fuel storage capacity of 91,000m³.

Australian independent Woodside Petroleum, which has interests in several offshore gas blocks, said this week it will reduce its presence in the country and demobilise its drilling team.

By Aldric Chew, Yawen Lu and Kevin Foster