India, Myanmar may bypass Bangladesh for gas pipeline - Other options to be explored
From The Hindu Business line, India
July 7, 2005
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INDIA and Myanmar on Wednesday decided to explore other alternatives for importing gas from offshore Myanmar, as negotiations with Bangladesh are yet to be firmed up for the Myanmar-Bangladesh-India gas pipeline.
Briefing presspersons after a meeting with Brigadier General Lun Thi, Minister of Energy, Myanmar, Mr Mani Shankar Aiyar, Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas, said that the techno-commercial group would examine possibility of laying the pipeline bypassing Bangladesh and importing natural gas through ships in its liquefied (LNG) or compressed (CNG) form.
Bangladesh, which had in January agreed to passage of the pipeline through its territory, has now demanded from India a trade and power corridor to Nepal and Bhutan and measures to reduce Bangladesh's $2-billion trade deficit. India has been opposed to making bilateral issues part of a trilateral agreement.
"We would continue to sort out the issue with Bangladesh," Mr Aiyar said.
Talking about the various options, Mr Aiyar said the possibility of taking the pipeline from Myanmar into Mizoram and onwards to Assam and culminating in West Bengal, a distance of 1,400 km, would be explored. This route is roughly double the length the pipeline would travel if it were to pass through Bangladesh, he said.
Further, Myanmar, which had banned foreign companies from exploring for oil and gas in onland blocks, would consider the bid by Oil India Ltd consortium for two blocks as a special case, the Minister said. Yangon was also open to Indian firms bidding for offshore blocks, he said. A talk on export of diesel from Numaligarh Refinery Ltd to Myanmar was also discussed at the meeting. "Discussions would shortly resume on price, delivery point, specification of diesel and mode of payment," he said.
"The Myanmar side indicated that while to begin with, they need 12 thousand metric tonnes per annum (TMTPA) of diesel, the demand is likely to grow much more," Mr Aiyar said.
Further, GAIL has also proposed to put up a LPG extraction plant with 256,000 tonnes per annum capacity in Myanmar, he said.
As part of the overall package of hydrocarbon sector cooperation between the two countries, India has approved extension of credit line of $20 million to Myanmar for renovation of Thanlyin Refinery.