India, Bangladesh, Myanmar agree in principle to gas pipeline
From The China Daily
Thu Jan 13,2005
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YANGON (AFP) - India, Bangladesh and Myanmar have agreed in principle to cooperate in a gas exploration and overland pipeline project that would send gas to energy-hungry India, state media reported.
A meeting of ministers from the neighbouring countries took place Wednesday in Yangon.
"The responsible energy ministers of the three countries agreed to cooperate to explore, drill and develop the offshore natural gas field in western Myanmar as well as to pipe the gas to India through Bangladesh," the official New Light of Myanmar reported in its local language edition.
On Tuesday, India's Oil Minister Mani Shankar Aiyer said signals from the other nations suggested "there should not be much problem in arriving at an agreement."
A petroleum sector analyst in Yangon familiar with the discussions said it could take up to two years to finalise contracts for the project, with pricing, right of way, and environment issues the key concerns.
India, which last week struck a 25-year deal to import 7.5 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas a year from Iran from 2009, is looking for more fuel as demand soars with rapid economic growth.
India is predicted to require 400 million standard cubic meters of gas per day by 2025, up from today's 90 million standard cubic meters. The pipeline was one of several options India has been considering to bring gas reserves from the Shwe Field's Block A-1 site.
India's state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corporation has a 20 percent stake in Myanmar's A-1 and A-3 Blocks, while the Gas Authority of India has a 10 percent stake in the two sites.
The Press Trust of India news agency has said Bangladesh was likely to earn about 125 million dollars annually in transit fees from the proposed pipeline. The pipeline would run through Arakan (Rakhine) state in Myanmar via the Indian states of Mizoram and Tripura before crossing Bangladesh to the northeastern Indian city of Calcutta, it said.
Myanmar earns some 400 million dollars per year from its annual gas sales to neighbour Thailand from its Yadana and Yetagun gas fields in the south, the analyst said.
"Opening the market to the west (India) would significantly increase earnings from gas which is already Myanmar's number one foreign exchange earner," he said.