Burmese gas through Bangladesh
Dhaka, 15 January 03:
Addressing a weekly meeting of Rotary Club of Metropolitan Dhaka at a
city hotel on 12 January the State Minister for Energy and Mineral Resources, A
K M Mosharraf Hossain said
that a proposal for the cross-border Tripura – Bangladesh gas pipeline for
Burmese gas was sent to the Prime Minister on 11th January,
according to news agencies here. The government of Bangladesh has been
reported to be planning to privatize the problem-ridden losing petroleum sector
gradually for ‘effective management’, the sources said.
The proposed gas pipeline will carry the gas from Burma’s Rakhine State to West
Bengal through a pipeline entering India through
its north-east frontier and cross Bangladesh. The discovery last October stirred a lot of
high hopes in the circle of multinational energy giants.
In a report on the discovery of an offshore gas field near Burma’s border with
Bangladesh the weekly Myanmar Times cited Daewoo International last October
that, the gas reserve in the new field could be more than double those found at
the Yadana or Yetagun gas fields that have reserves of 6,7 and 3.2 trillion
cubic feet respectively. It also added
that the gas could eventually be piped to India.
H D Lee, deputy managing director of Affiliate Myanmar Daewoo told the weekly
that the gas reserve in the new findings could be around 13.4 to 47.3 trillion
cubic feet of natural gas. Though the
official did not disclose the exact location of the new site, it is clear that
the said gas field lies at a point between Kyaukpru Island and Sittwe in Rakhine State in
western part of Burma.
The company has been reported to have signed a production-sharing contact with Burma’s
Ministry of Energy in August 2000 and in the following January assigned 20
percent and 10 percent stakes respectively to India’s Oil
and Natural Gas Commission and Gas Authority.
The issue of the construction of gas pipeline in Burma is
controversial since the ruling junta have been using large scale forced labour
in construction of gas pipelines. France’s TotalFinaElf and its American partner Unocal have faced
accusations that they used forced labour in the construction of the Yadana
pipeline, which carries Burmese gas to Thailand,
An estimated 150 million dollars Burma receives
annually from the Yadana pipeline is used by the ruling Burmese junta for
violations of human rights, it is alleged.
In the western part of Burma, the use
of forced labour has been seen as state-sponsored slavery, said a retired judge
at Sittwe while our correspondent from there was
talking to him. There is a wide fear for
the use of forced labour in the ‘proposed pipeline’. Even at present there is large-scale use of
forced labour across the western state.
For the people of Rakhine State, the
poorest state in Burma not
because of lack of resources but because of systematic campaign of neglect and
repression by Burmese juntas since the Burmese independence in 1948, the gas
pipeline will only bring sufferings, the judge added. Though Rakhine State has a large
highly-potential waterfall at Sandin, in the northern
area, there is no hydro-electric project and 99.8 percent of the state goes
without any source of electricity – so though there is an uproar among
governments and multinational oil giants there will be nothing left for the
people of the state, not even a gas-powered generator except getting squeezed
dry, he concluded. #