Vol 3, PW 9 (26 May 99) Midstream & Downstream

In an encouraging development, Petrowatch learns that Bangladesh may be about to soften its long-held opposition to cross-border gas and power co-operation with India.

Petrowatch learns that Rajendra Singh, Chairman, National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), this month received a letter from the Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) asking for a detailed project proposal to set up a gas-fired power station to serve both Bangladesh and India. Bangladesh has not specified the capacity of the power plant but Singh indicates to this report that his reply will contain a proposal for a 1,000-MW plant.

Singh is believed to be hugely encouraged by the letter from BPDB. It is the first time in months that Bangladesh has formally responded to an NTPC proposal.

Singh tells a correspondent for this report that NTPC had forwarded several proposals to Bangladesh for 500-MW, 1000-MW, and 1500-MW power plants. But until now, has received no response.

"Singh clearly sees this request from Bangladesh as a positive development", writes a correspondent. In October 1998, we reported how Occidental was behind moves to persuade NTPC to build a gas-fired power plant at Sirajgunj, on the west bank of the river Padma, fuelled by future gas supplies from Blocks 12, 13 and 14 in northwestern Bangladesh, where it operates in an alliance with Unocal.

News reports in December 98 indicate that Shell and Cairn Energy, with joint gas interests in Bangladesh, have also been approached, as have the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. All appear interested in the project, which has been conservatively valued at Rs3000cr ($714m).

Bangladeshs positive letter to NTPC indicates it could actually become reality.