Bangladesh looks to end offshore gas dispute with India, Myanmar
Saturday, 21 June 2008

Bdnews24.com

Bangladesh will ask India and Myanmar to hold rapid tripartite talks to end a dispute over offshore exploration of gas and oil in the Bay of Bengal.

Petrobangla has drafted and forwarded a letter to the power, energy and mineral resources ministry for review, before sending it to India and Myanmar via the foreign ministry.

"India objected to offshore gas exploration in the Bay. We did the same when India had launched a gas exploration," the chief adviser's special assistant M Tamim, who oversees the power, energy and mineral resources ministry, told bdnews24.com:

"The dispute should come to an end through discussion. Neither we, nor they (India and Myanmar) will explore in disputed areas until a solution is found through talks," Tamim said.

Energy secretary Mohammad Mohsin told bdnews24.com that the ministry was reviewing the letter drafted by Petrobangla.

Another senior official of the ministry said the government would give Indian and Myanmar a proposal to end the dispute over maritime boundaries in the Bay.

"Bangladesh suggests that all exploration and extraction in the Bay by the countries should be suspended until a decision is made. If India and Myanmar continue work and do not respond to our letter, Bangladesh will resume its activities as well," the official said.

Petrobangla chairman Jalal Ahmed said: "We sent the draft letter to the energy ministry, and the foreign ministry will act on the letter and take necessary steps."

India and Myanmar objected to exploration of oil and gas in up to 12 offshore blocs in the Bay of Bengal after Petrobangla had invited bids for 28 blocs.

Both countries also asked international oil and gas companies not to take part in the bidding.

Seven international oil companies took part in the bidding for 15 blocs. Petrobangla is now evaluating the bids

The 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 were among the players that joined the bidding.

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.

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