According to Energy Ministry officials, the blocks, which were settled in favour of Bangladesh by the verdict of International Tribunal for the Law of the Seas (ITLOS) after a legal battle with Myanmar, will be offered for the fresh round of bidding. The ITLOS released the verdict on March 14, 2012.
“Hopefully, we’re going to invite the bids in September. Now, Petrobangla is preparing a block map on the basis of the ITLOS verdict,” Energy Secretary Mohammad Mejbauddin recently told UNB.
He said that the bidding will be limited only within the settled areas of Bangladesh. “No disputed area with neighbouring India will be included in the map,” the Energy Secretary said, giving an idea that the total number of blocks might be 12-14 only in the offshore and deep sea.
Last, in 2008, the government invited international bids for 28 blocks in the country’s offshore and deep sea areas. But all the blocks, except one, were in the disputed areas as India claimed its right in 10 blocks while Myanmar claimed its right in 17 blocks.
Following the claims by the neighbours, Bangladesh moved ITLOS to settle dispute with Myanmar and also to UN’s Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to settle the dispute with India.
The ITLOS announced its verdict in March this year, but the verdict of UNCLOS is scheduled to come in 2014.
In the 2008 bidding, because of the disputes, Bangladesh awarded only some parts of two deep sea blocks to US oil major ConocoPhillips which became eligible for as many as eight blocks.
In the next four years, no further bidding took place though the country has been experiencing nagging energy crisis.
“But the dispute settlement with Myanmar has given a fresh chance to move for international bidding. We should not wait any more,” said an official at the Energy Ministry.
He said Bangladesh hopes a very good response from the international players in the energy market to participate in the new bidding process.
Top officials of ConocoPhillips recently met Finance Minister AMA Muhith to get a preference in the planned international bidding.