Myanmar serves ultimatum to India for gas purchase

Vol 9, PW 14 (20 Oct 05) People & Policy

Myanmar has served an ultimatum to India to quickly make up its mind on how it plans to import gas from the offshore Daewoo-operated block A-1, where OVL and GAIL jointly have a 30% stake.

We understand Myanmar energy minister Brig. Gen.

Lun Thi told India very clearly during his visit to Delhi on 4th October that unless a decision is taken soon Yangon might not be able to resist pressure from both China and Thailand, who are ready to buy all the gas. During his visit, Lun Thi met oil secretary Sushil Tripathi, additional secretary Talmiz Ahmad and other Indian officials.

A source present during talks tells us Lun Thi talked of huge pressure on Myanmar from Thailand and China for the gas from the Arakans offshore. If India does not decide quickly, we might not be able to give you the gas from the Arakans, he is reported to have told his Indian hosts.

Lun Thi said China and Thailand are ready to import the gas through overland pipelines. He also voiced scepticism about Indian plans to lay a pipeline through Bangladesh for the import of Myanmar gas and said his government believes the Bangladesh route for the pipeline will not materialise.

You should decide soon because there is no time to lose, he is reported to have said. I would suggest the pipeline go through your northeastern states rather than through Bangladesh.

Lun Thi is also believed to have told Indian officials that Daewoo and Kogas, want gas from A-1 to be converted to LNG and exported as this will be a more profitable proposition in commercial terms and there will be no political problems to be faced in laying an overland pipeline. A-1 consortium operator Daewoo, meanwhile, is planning this years exploration campaign from November 2005 till April 2006 and has hired two rigs.

By the end of the year, Yangon will also have in hand independent gas reserves estimates for block A-1. This will help in deciding how to best use the gas, we are told.