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Tripartite Gas Pipeline Talks Today

Nilofar Suhrawardy
From Arab News
12 January 2005
link to this article.

NEW DELHI :Within a week of India warming up to Saudi Arabia in oil diplomacy and signing a 25-year deal with Iran, Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar is exploring new horizons in the same field. Before leaving for Yangon, to hold talks with his counterparts from Bangladesh and Myanmar, Aiyar said yesterday: "We are having a tripartite meeting of energy ministers from India, Bangladesh and Myanmar in Yangon on Jan. 12 to see how gas from Myanmar could flow from India through a land pipeline."
"The idea is to explore the possibility of Myanmar-India gas pipeline," he said.
Compared to around 90 million standard cubic meters of liquefied natural gas available today, India's demand is expected to increase to 400 million standard cubic meters by 2025. A Myanmar-India gas pipeline is one of the several options being considered by Delhi to bring gas reserves from Block A-1 in offshore Myanmar as well as volumes that are expected to be discovered in its adjacent block A-3. While stake of ONGC Videsh Ltd is 20 percent in both blocks, that of GAIL (India) is 10 percent. South Korea's Daewoo is operator of both blocks.
Given that Bangladesh would earn $125 million annually as transit fee for the pipeline and that it would open employment opportunities for millions of Bangladeshis, it should not have objections to the pipeline. However, Bangladesh is not likely to easily accept the offer without laying its own conditions.
Dhaka is interested in the pipeline being laid along Bangladesh's existing roads and highways and that the project be jointly managed by it and India. It also wants India to allow Bangladesh to use the pipeline to export gas to India or import it from Myanmar.
In principle, Bangladesh has no objection to the proposed pipeline passing through its territory if it is built on mutually beneficial terms, sources said. Some conditions include its right to management of the pipeline.
Besides, Bangladesh is expected to reiterate its long pending request of being permitted land transit to Nepal and import of hydro-electricity from Nepal and Bhutan. Issues such as royalty and nature of ownership of the pipeline project would also be extensively deliberated upon before a deal is done.

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