Narinjara news

1st March, 2002

Trans-Myanmar-Bangladesh Gas Pipeline Plan


2) Bangladesh Festival in Myanmar soon


(Source: The Daily Star report, 1
st March 02)

The "Trans-Myanmar-Bangladesh Gas Pipeline" project, proposed by 'an international consortium', is actually the proposal made by a Bangladeshi company, Mohona Holding Ltd, three years ago.

The proposal was made in mid-'99, coinciding with US company Unocal's unofficial advocacy for gas export from Bangladesh to India and a visit by the then foreign minister of Myanmar to Bangladesh.

However, the proposal mysteriously became 'dead' within months, even before any meaningful negotiation or discussion with the government (of Bangladesh).

Industry insiders said the company has revived the proposal again now, coinciding with the visit of Unocal's regional chief to Bangladesh.

A few months ago, Unocal officially proposed to the government of Bangladesh for export of gas from Bibiyana gas field to India.

According to sources, the Trans-Myanmar-Bangladesh gas Pipeline project proposal lacks any feasibility study, and available information on gas resources (and) shows no scope for export of gas from Myanmar to India. The only surplus gas in Myanmar is being produced by Unocal, and the company is committed to supply that to Thailand for power generation.

The proposal also claims to add gas to its pipeline from India's Tripura region, where large-scale gas production remained for years due to insurgency.

Besides, the pipeline infrastructure will require investment of over two billion US dollars. But Mohona Holdings does not have any expertise or investment in this regard. Its only partner in the deal is Indian oil company ONGC.

Mohona Holdings categorically claims that its proposal in no way competes Unocal's gas export proposal or is linked with it. But the source said its aim is to reach 'some understanding' with the US company. "There is nothing to be excited about it" commented an official source. #

Bangladesh Festival in Myanmar soon

The "Bangladesh Festival" is going to be held in Myanmar in the last week of March with a view to exploring alternative markets of locally manufactured products to its nearest neighbour, official sources said.

The Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) and Bangladesh-Myanmar Business Promotions Council are jointly organizing the festival.

Commerce Minister Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury is expected to lead a delegation comprising representatives of the government and private sector in the Bangladesh festival, first of its kind in Myanmar. Leading manufacturers of garment and textile products will also join the festival.

The government decided to organize the festival as part of its move to explore alternative markets for different exportable items, especially garments products, in the back drop of global recession in economy and high competition in export market, commerce ministry officials said.

Programmes of the festival include seminar on potentialities of Bangladesh products, exhibition of traditional foods of Bangladesh and cultural function, organizers said.

There is also possibility to set up permanent exhibition centre in Myanmar to expand trade and commerce between the two countries.

Chairman of the Bangladesh-Myanmar Business Promotions Council Syed Mahmudul Haque said Myanmar has a great political and economic significance since the country is the nearest neighbour of Bangladesh.

"Both the countries have immense potentialities in trade and commerce sectors, but that have not yet been utilized," he said.

He said the festival is going to be held in Myanmar as a move to restore economic relations between the two countries that existed in ancient periods.

According to the organizers, Myanmar has been maintaining border trades with its four neighbours including Bangladesh.

"Bangladesh exported goods worth 22.3 million US dollars to Myanmar while imported different items worth 1.3 million dollars," available figures show. #