Narinjara News

 

Three-nation parleys on gas project in January

Dhaka 18 November: The minister of Energy of Bangladesh, India, and Burma will meet in Yangoon, the capital of Burma, in January next year to finalise the three-nation gas pipeline project. According to The Independent News.

 

Sources said, after getting the final nod from Bangladesh, the India Government finalized the date of the meeting, which is going to be held between 6th and 10th January 2005 in Yangoon.

 

“A joint meeting will be held between Bangladesh and India for finalizing some issues relating to the project”, a top official of the Energy Minister yesterday said. This bilateral meeting would be held before the proposed three-party meeting. “Before we settle the mater, Bangladesh wants to discuss some terms and conditions with its India counterpart”, he added.

 

The government has set certain conditions like import of gas from Burma when required for allowing the gas pipeline from Burma to West Bengal over the Bangladesh territory. Bangladesh also suggested other conditions, including a provision for transmission of its own gas for domestic use or for export, if required, and empowering gas Transmission Company Limited (GTCL), a company under the responsibility for the management of the proposed pipeline.

 

According to a report in the India newspapers, The Hindu, Bangladesh Foreign Minister Morshed Khan discussed with the Indian leaders the issue, when he visited India in July last. “We’re looking at the potential for larger cooperation (with India) as our requirement is going up”, the report quoted Morshed Khan a saying “I’ll leave it to the officials to discuss about import contracts”.

 

India’s Oil Minister Mani Shanker Aiyer at a meeting with the Bangladeshi foreign Minister raised the idea of India using Bangladesh as a transit route to transport natural gas from Burma, the report said. Khan said Dhaka had no objection if the pipeline could be built on mutually beneficial terms with Bangladesh levying a transit fee. But this could make Burma gas expensive for India, the report said.

 

Energy Minister sources said, that the Indian government had asked the Bangladesh counterpart to complete all homework and get ready for this crucial meeting.

 

The sources said, the proposed pipeline would enter the Bangladesh border through Brahmanbaria from the Indian territory of Tripura and will cross into West Bengal through the Rajshahi border.

 

Mohona Holding Bangladesh local company has requested the minister of Energy to reconsider its proposal, first made over one and half years ago, which was rejected by the Prime Minister’s office last year.

 

Mohona Holding recently again showed interest in this year US$1 billion project. The proposal also claims to add gas to its pipeline from India’s Tripura region, where large-scale has production remained uncertain for years due to insurgency.

 

The sources said that, the proposal was made in mid-’99 coinciding with US company Unocal’s unofficial advocacy for gas export form Bangladesh to India and visit by the Foreign Minister of Burma to Bangladesh. The company is now provided detailed information as to how it would organize funds for the project, if it is finally approved by the government.

 

Official at the Energy Division indicated that, Bangladesh would get about US$125 million annually, US$ 100 million as a wheeling charge and US$ 25 million as maintenance charges from the proposed pipeline. Besides, Dhaka would get the right of way revenue from the pipeline.

 

On top of that there would be an investment of US$ 150 million that would create employment opportunities for Bangladeshi. #

 

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