Myanmar pipeline alternative to gas from Bangladesh

Vol 6, PW 13 (28 Aug 02) People & Policy

BANGLADESH IS IN no mood to sell gas to India but it's more than happy to let neighbouring Myanmar use its territory to fill the gap! We understand Dhaka is taking a fresh look at a proposal from local contractor Mohanna Holdings to construct a pipeline from Myanmar through Tripura across Bangladesh and into West Bengal.

Mosharraf Hossain, Bangladesh's energy minister, tells PETROWATCH the project is lucrative. "We're still examining the terms and conditions," he said.

"But I find this proposal very agreeable and beneficial for Bangladesh." Hossain said Dhaka could earn huge amounts of money in annual gas transit fees and the sale of right of way and pipeline laying activities. Additional money could be earned from operations and maintenance of the Bangladesh stretch of the pipeline.

Hossein said a Bangladesh energy ministry panel is analysing the cost-benefit of the project and that he is confident of its potential. He said a final decision would emerge once Bangladesh is certain it will get the "best possible deal." Support for the Myanmar pipeline comes from state-owned Petrobangla, which has long opposed exporting domestic gas to India.

A Petrobangla technical committee says the Myanmar pipeline will boost "long-term and sustainable regional cooperation in South Asia." According to Hossain, Mohanna Holdings wants to implement the project through a consortium of global companies. Across the border, India has reason to support the Myanmar pipeline.

In January this year ONGC Videsh and GAIL acquired a combined 30% stake in Block A-1 offshore Myanmar with estimated reserves of 8 trillion cubic feet. First drilling begins next year with commercial production expected in 2008.