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Members dodge meetings, delay offshore gas deals PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 29 May 2008

Bdnews24.com

The absence of some members at meetings of a committee formed to review bids for exploration of new offshore gas fields in the Bay has delayed the selection of companies, said a senior official Wednesday.

Jalal Ahmed, chairman of Petrobangla, told bdnews24.com that the committee had been overhauled.

"It's now working," he said.

But Ahmed was unable to say when the committee would be able to end the tasks.

Petrobangla officials had earlier said that selection would be completed by the end of May.

Ahmed hoped that final agreements with selected companies would be signed by October.

The committee had four meetings, but failed to make progress in the process, said another senior official, preferring anonymity.

The official, who is a member of the committee, said a representative from the finance ministry attended none of the four meetings.

The National Board of Revenue changed its representative three times. Petrobangla asked the Energy Division to change representatives.

The representative from the Implementation, Monitoring and Evaluation Department did not attend any meeting, the official said.

The Petrobangla official said the government officials were apparently reluctant to be involved in the process. He did not explain why.

No timeframe to end the work of the committee was also blamed for the delay.

Seven companies from countries including the United States and China took part in the bidding to explore gas in the Bay.

The government called an international bidding in February for exploration of new offshore gas fields to meet the country's growing energy needs.

Petrobangla opened the bid documents on May 7 to complete evaluation of the proposals by May 31 for a final decision.

Seven companies are Houston, US-based Conoco-Phillips, Australia's Santos International, Longwoods Resources (a US-China joint venture), Korea International Oil Corporation, China National Offshore Oil Corp, known as CNOOC, Comtrack Services and Tullow.

Currently Bangladesh, with about 15 trillion cubic feet (425 billion cubic metres) of proven and recoverable gas reserves, is facing at least 100 million cubic feet of gas shortages a day.

The nation has only one offshore gas field, which is managed by the Edinburgh, Scotland-based Cairn Energy. It has been producing gas from the Sangu plant in the Bay of Bengal since 1998.

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