Route hunt for Myanmar pipeline
From The Telegraph, Kolkata
July 7, 2005
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India and Myanmar today discussed routes that bypass Bangladesh for laying the transnational pipeline to bring gas to Bengal. Some headway was also made on the issue of exporting diesel from the Numaligarh refinery.
Petroleum minister Mani Shankar Aiyar said these routes were discussed as part of the bilateral talks between India and Myanmar to keep all options open as Bangladesh was posing problems regarding the pipeline. India has agreed to lend $20 million to Myanmar to upgrade its Thanlyn refinery
Myanmar energy minister Lun Thi said the offshore A-1 block in India was still being developed. Therefore, it would take "some years" for the gas to flow to India. Laying the pipeline and setting up the distribution network will also take some time, he added.
"Although I cannot specify a timeframe, we are working to make the gas available as soon as possible," he said.
Thi said around 6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas had already been identified in one of the three structures of the A-1 block, in which five wells had been drilled.
Appraisal wells will be drilled in the other two structures and an estimate can be reached after the work is completed by 2006.
On the basis of existing geological data, Myanmar hopes to strike 12 to 19 trillion cubic feet of gas. He said more gas is likely to be found in the adjoining A-6 block.
Thi said, "We are considering Oil India Ltd's (OIL) request for a participating interest in two oil exploration blocks in northern Myanmar."
Regarding diesel exports, Aiyar said it was agreed that technical teams from both sides will sort out issues related to specifications, delivery point and pricing. Myanmar said it would need 12,000 tonnes of diesel initially but would buy more later.
The petroleum ministry will also take up the issue of rupee payments for the diesel with the Reserve Bank of India.