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India tips 2010 start for Rakhine gas pipeline

Thet Khaing
The Myanmar Times
June 7, 2005 to this article.

THE Indian government reaffirmed last week that a proposed pipeline to carry natural gas from a natural gas field off Rakhine State to India through Bangladesh could be operational by 2010.

"As matters stand, it will take one year for government clearances, another one year for the project's financial closure and a further three years for the construction of the pipeline," a senior official at India's Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Mr Sushil Tripathi, told reporters in New Delhi on May 23, Associated Press reported.

Mr Tripathi's comment came despite a delay in signing a memorandum of understanding pending the outcome of negotiations between Dhaka and New Delhi on conditions sought by Bangladesh to allow the pipeline to pass through its territory.

The MoU was drafted in February by a technical committee comprising officials from the three countries and was due to have been signed in late March.
The three countries agreed in principle to build the pipeline at a meeting in Yangon in January attended by Myanmar's Energy Minister, Brigadier-General Lun Thi, and his Indian and Bangladeshi counterparts, Mr Mani Shankar Aiyar and Mr A.K.M. Mosharraf Hossain.

The three ministers also agreed then to establish a consortium to build the pipeline.

Meanwhile, Mohana Holdings, a Bangladesh construction company which is seeking to lead the consortium, said it was in negotiations with potential partners in the project.

The managing director of Mohana Holdings, Mr K.B. Ahmed, was quoted by India's Telegraph newspaper on May 24 as saying the consortium would build and operate the pipeline.

Mr Ahmed declined to name the companies involved in negotiations to form the consortium, the newspaper reported.

He said Mohana Holdings was also talking to investors and financial institutions about funding for the project.

The report quoted Mr Ahmed as saying the MoU, which he hoped would be signed soon, would provide for the establishment of the consortium.

India has proposed that the pipeline follows a route through Myanmar and the Indian states of Mizoram and Tripura and across Bangladesh to India's West Bengal state, where it would be linked to the national grid.

The pipeline, to come ashore near the Rakhine State capital, Sittwe, will carry gas from a block known as A-1 which is being developed by a consortium headed by South Korea's Daewoo International, which has a 60 per cent share in the venture.

India's state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation and the Gas Authority of India Limited have a 20 per cent and 10 per cent share respectively and the remaining 10 per cent is held by South Korea's state-owned KOGAS.


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