New Bangladesh proposal for Myanmar gas to India

Vol 8, PW 10 (11 Aug 04) People & Policy

Bangladesh Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia is examining a new proposal from private sector Mohana Holdings to export gas from Myanmar to India through Bangladesh.

The present proposal is an improvement on an earlier one from Mohana, which Begum Zia had rejected. Under the new proposal, Bangladesh will have a degree of control over gas transiting Bangladesh from Myanmar to India.

The 1,975-km pipeline will travel from Myanmars Arakans province along a portion of Bangladeshs existing highway network and onward to India. It will be 78-km longer than Mohanas earlier proposal.

Unlike the earlier proposal, the new proposal only envisages a minimum of additional land acquisition. Mohana and its joint venture partner Trans Canadian Pipelines want a consortium of Myanmar, Bangladesh and India to fund and implement the project.

Mohana previously planned to implement the project itself. Bangladeshs state-owned Gas Transmission Company will manage the pipeline and collect transit fees.

Analysts believe the new Mohana proposal could serve as cover for Bangladesh to export its own gas to India because the pipeline is designed for domestic and international transmission. Energy minister Mosharaff Hossain tells PETROWATCH the new proposal, has a great chance of success.

Hossain said he gave it high marks before sending it to Begum Zias office. Many in government and industry realise time is running out for us, says energy analyst Imrose Quereshi.

India has struck hugegas deposits in the eastern offshore and is all setto import gas from Burma. Who will import our gas if we have a surplus A source close to Begum Zia tells this report Dhaka might agree to export gas to India just before the 2006 general elections to win Indian support for the (ruling) BNP's re-election.