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Two killed in Myanmar clash near China pipeline

By Aung Hla Tun

YANGON (Reuters) - Ethnic minority guerrillas in Myanmar attacked an energy company's compound killing two people and wounding three, media reported on Wednesday, the latest incident threatening to delay the opening of pipelines taking oil and gas to China.

The rebels opened fire at a compound of Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise in the north of Shan State, near the Chinese border.

The New Light of Myanmar newspaper said those involved in the Monday attack were members of the Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army.

Various factions in Shan State, and elsewhere in Myanmar, have battled the government for greater autonomy for decades. Most groups have agreed ceasefires, some struck with a quasi-civilian government that came to power in mid-2011, after nearly 50 years of military rule.

The peace pacts have opened up opportunities for infrastructure development and exploitation of resources in areas that were previously too insecure.

Among the projects are pipelines capable of supplying 440,000 barrels of oil a day and 12 billion cubic meters of natural gas a year to China's southern Yunnan province to help meet China's growing energy needs.

One pipeline will transport oil shipped from the Middle East and Africa to a western Myanmar port. The other will carry gas from a field off Myanmar.

Most of China's oil is currently shipped from the Middle East and Africa through the Straits of Malacca, one of the world's busiest shipping lanes.

The gas pipeline had been scheduled to start in May but a senior Energy Ministry official said on Saturday that security concerns could caused a delay. The energy minister has been reported as saying gas would start flowing in June followed by oil in September.

(Writing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre; Editing by Alan Raybould and Robert Birsel)

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