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Bangladesh sets conditions to allow India-Mynamar pipeline

From The Financial Express, India
March 13, 2005
link to this article.

Bangladesh has set strict pre-conditions, including improving trade imbalance and transit rights to Nepal, for allowing the $1-billion Myanmar-India gas pipeline to pass through its territory.

Dhaka wants India to agree on giving it transit facility to Nepal, access to hydro-electricity from Nepal and Bhutan and reduction of trade imbalance for Bangladesh to approve of the tripartite pact on the gas pipeline.

“Bangladesh raised the demands at the first meeting of the techno-commercial working committee of Myanmar, Bangladesh and India on building of the 290-km pipeline late last month,� an official, who visited Yangoon, for the meeting said. However, ministry of external affairs has taken a strong exception to inclusion of bilateral issues in the tripartite treaty.

Foreign secretary Shyam Saran on March 8 shot off a letter to petroleum secretary SC Tripathi stating that bilateral issues should at no cost form part of the tripartite memorandum of understanding (MoU) that is to be signed by the three countries in Dhaka by this month end. MEA feels that Bangladesh, by including the bilateral issues in the tripartite MoU, is making Myanmar “guarantor� and may use Yangoon to pressurise New Delhi in implementing the ‘in-Principle’ agreement.

The official said Myanmar has indicated a price of $4.27 per million British thermal unit (MBTU) for its offshore gas which India wants to import through a pipeline passing through Bangladesh. “Myanmar is seeking a price equivalent to the price at which it sell natural gas to Thailand,� the official said. The delivered price of the gas on Indian borders, after including transit fee to be paid to Bangladesh, would be more than $5 per MBTU. This is 20% more than the price at which India will import Liquefied Natural Gas from Iran.

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