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Bangladesh awards gas exploration rights

Bangladesh awards gas exploration rights

Bangladesh has awarded three offshore blocks to two global energy companies to explore for gas in the Bay of Bengal, a senior energy official said Tuesday.
The U.S.-based ConocoPhillips and Ireland's Tullow Oil could start exploration work by early next year, said Mohammad Muqtadir Ali, chairman of the state-owned Bangladesh Oil, Gas and Mineral Corporation, or Petrobangla.
He said the decision came Monday from a Cabinet committee on economic affairs, the highest body to deal with economic issues, as the nation seeks new sources of gas amid a forecast that its current reserves will run out by 2014-15.
Ali, however, said the companies would not be allowed to explore for oil and gas in disputed waters, also claimed by India and Myanmar, in the Bay of Bengal.
"We will not allow them to work in the disputed waters," he told The Associated Press by phone.
The official said the oil companies are expected to invest a total of $160.5 million in line with their initial bidding estimates for the exploration work. It will need years to complete the exploration job, he said.
Officials of the companies could not be immediately reached for comment.
Bangladesh has said it will fight internationally to establish its rights over the disputed waters, and is preparing to file its claims to the United Nations for a resolution. India and Myanmar claim the areas fall within their maritime boundaries.
Last year, Bangladesh's military-backed interim government divided the country's sea territory into 28 blocks in the Bay of Bengal and invited exploration bids, but failed to get much response apparently because of the dispute.
In November 2008, tensions mounted between Myanmar and Bangladesh after Myanmar escorted a South Korean gas exploration company into territory also claimed by Bangladesh. Both countries deployed their navies and finally ended the stand off with high-level diplomatic negotiations.
The government has recently asked energy authorities not to allow any new gas connections since the country is facing up to 250 million cubic feet in shortages of gas each day.
Currently, Sangu gas field, operated by Britain's Cairn Energy, is the country's lone operating offshore gas field.
Bangladesh has proven natural gas reserves of up to 15 trillion cubic feet.
Foreign companies have invested millions of dollars to explore and produce gas in deals with the state-run Petrobangla.


Updated : 2021-08-01 20:07 GMT+08:00