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SHWE Gas Movement News

Check back here often to stay abreast of the most recent SHWE Gas Movement-related news.

 

Myanmar to grant more blocks for offshore gas exploration

From Xinhua
July 30, 2005
link to this article.

Myanmar will grant 13 new blocks in the country's offshore areas for foreign investment in oil and gas exploration and production, a local weekly reported Saturday.

The new blocks include eight in the gulf of Mottama and five off the Rakhine coast, project officials of the Ministry of Energy was quoted by the 7-Day News as saying.

The country has designated a total of about 600 blocks 320 kilometers within Myanmar territorial waters for oil and gas exploration, of which 25 are under exploration. Of the 25, 12 are located in the gulf of Mottma, six off the Tanintharyi coast and seven off the Rakhine coast.

Since Myanmar opened to foreign investment in the sector in 1988, oil companies from a dozen countries have stepped in. Outstanding investments in the area include the Yadana gas field project in the gulf of Mottama and the Yetagun one off the Tanintharyi coast.

The Yadana involves multi-national companies of PTTEP (Thailand), TOTAL (France), UNOCAL (the United States) and MOGE (Myanmar), while the Yetagun includes PTTEP (Thailand), Petronas (Malaysia), Nippon (Japan) and MOGE (Myanmar).

Sale of gas produced from the two fields to Thailand has been underway for years.

Early last year, huge natural gas deposit, estimated to yield up to 14 TCF (396.2 billion cubic-meters) of gas, was found at Block A-1 of the Rakhine coast. It had been explored since 2000 bya consortium comprising South Korea's Daewoo, South Korea Gas Corporation, the ONGC Videsh Ltd of India and the Gas Authority ofIndia.

Sale of gas from the field to India and the way of transmission of the gas is under negotiation, which also involves Bangladesh.

Another consortium made up of Chinese and Singaporean companies are also engaged in oil and gas exploration in some onshore and offshore areas.

Myanmar has a total of 87 trillion cubic-feet (TCF) or 2.46 trillion cubic meters (TCM) ) of gas reserve and 3.2 billion barrels of recoverable crude oil reserve.

Official statistics show that Myanmar produced 9.9 billion cubic-meters (BCM) of gas and 7.16 million barrels of crude oil in2003-04. Gas export during the year went to 5.66 BCM, earning nearly 600 million dollars, while crude oil import was worth 13.18million dollars the same year.

Latest figures reveal that in the first eight months (April-November) of 2004-05, gas output went to 6.93 BCM and crude oil production 4.87 million barrels. Gas export during the period stood at 3.78 BCM with 422 million dollars fetched.

Since Myanmar opened to foreign investment in late 1988, such investment in the oil and gas sector had reached 2.5 billion dollars as of the beginning of 2004, the figures also disclose. Foreign oil companies engaged in the oil and gas sector mainly include those from Australia, Britain, Canada, China, Indonesia, India, South Korea, Malaysia and Thailand.

Myanmar, abundant with natural gas resources, stands at a position to become a main gas exporting country in Asia, observersview.

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Dhaka open to talks on tri-nation gas pipeline: Energy Adviser

From The Independent/Narinjara News, Bangladesh
July 27, 2005
link to this article.

Adviser to the Energy and Mineral Resources Division Mahmudur Rahman yesterday said the government is open to negotiate we installation of the tri-nation gas pipeline through Bangladesh from Myanmar to India if the Indian government so desires.

"We are open to negotiate and obviously our position is to secure maximum advantage from it like the other patties seeking to maximise benefits," he said while speaking at the opening of a meeting of energy journalists of the seven south Asian countries now gathered in the city.

South Asia Forum for Energy Journalists (SAFEJ), an umbrella organization of energy journalists of the seven countries is organizing the event at Sheraton Hotel jointly with the USAID run South Asia Regional Initiative for Energy (SARI-E). At least 50 energy reporters are taking part in the three-day event from India, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and the host Bangladesh. Pakistan and Afghanistan are taking part in the meeting for the first time since the launching of the forum two years ago. State minister for power Iqbal Hassan Mahmud attended the opening function as the chief guest. Energy adviser at the US embassy Bruce McMullen, John Hammond of the US Energy Association and Dave Ernsberger, editorial director for Asia Platts also spoke on the occasion. Mahmudur Rahman 5aid the present century is for the Asia Pacific nations to score the highest level of development and much of it, however, depends on easy access to energy resources. Referring to the SARI spirit, he said, "We can grow together and for that we must make collective move to exploit and use the energy resources." On the India-Myanmar gas line, he said there is also another move to bring gas from Iran to India by pipeline through Pakistan. Even a Chinese company is bidding for buying the American oil giant Unocal which was unbelievable only the other day.

A power hungry region can take any unpredictable move, Rahman said, adding Bangladesh is open to negotiate the Myanmar-India gas pipeline project. Referring to a meeting of the energy ministers of India and Myanmar recently in Delhi keeping Bangladesh out of it, he said Dhaka has welcomed it.

"This is business and all three countries will try to maximise their profits, this is natural," he said. Mr Rahman said, the outcome of the Dellu meeting is still in the dark. If they can take (Myanmar) gas-bypassing Bangladesh by way of LNG, CNG or deep-sea pipeline, it is their choice. "But if they want Bangladesh's participation we are open to negotiation," he said, adding in such case we will try to take maximum benefits from it like the other parties trying it. State Minister for Power Iqbal Hassan Mahmud said, the region has a huge potential of generating over 100,000 MW electricity from hydal sources in Nepal and Bhutan, in addition to gas, coal, wind and other bio-mass sources in the region.

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Indian Expert: Economics does not push Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline project

From IRNA
July 27, 2005
link to this article.

Talking to IRNA today, Lydia Powell, Senior Fellow at New Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation said, economic facts on the ground was not supportive of the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project. "There is a contradiction between India's foreign policy and energy policy. In such circumstances there is not a single bank that will come forward for fund it," Powell said.

"The pipeline project seems to be steered by the personality of the Indian Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas. A project does not become bankable because of one minister", Powell added.

The energy expert who is with the ORF Center for Resource Management dedicated to study India's energy scenario said, "India is not the best market for gas. Indian gas market is immature; the government has not initiated a specific legislation in support of the kind of projects like the India-Iran gas pipeline project.

Such projects take long time to execute and governments might be replaced and only a stable national policy could ensure construction of a like project".

"It is very nice to think of an Asian gas grid but it has to be remembered that India does not have a gas grid even within its own territory," Powell said while describing the lack of deep foundational thinking and policy making behind the plans of Asian gas grids as championed by the Indian Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Mani Shankar Aiyar.

Powell feels, gas pipeline project in India's west is not possible in the immediate future. She said it might become a reality in the Myanmar-Bangladesh-India sector.

"Bangladesh is asking for an increment in the transit fees and it can be taken care of by India. Moreover, the gas in Myanmar is owned by Indian companies like Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) and Gas Authority of Indian Ltd. (GAIL).

Myanmar-Bangladesh-India gas pipeline project is more feasible project and once executed, it might actually push the India-Iran gas pipeline project," Powell explained.

She explained that the real hurdle before the pipeline project is not the issue of terrorism. "Terrorism is not the show stopper.

Pipelines are the most economic means of transporting gas. The private sector in India has not been invited to participate in the project and they, expectedly are disappointed with their non-participation," said Powell.

Giving an indication of the government-private sector tussle over he gas pipeline project, Powell said, "There is an impression that perhaps the Gas Authority of India Ltd. does not want to share the fruits of the pipeline project with private companies and wants to be the sole controller of the pipeline. This has created misgivings in the private sector about the pipeline project." "Indian government has been very protective of public sector bodies emerging as the real players in the gas sector. LNG is a better option." "Realities simply don't support the project", she added sympathetically.

About the nuclear deal between India and the United States, Powell said, "as far as energy for India's growing economy is concerned, it is a good beginning. India has suffered due to the international nuclear regime that prevented us from getting access to capital and nuclear fuel. Now it seems India would get access to the much necessary nuclear fuel for its Tarapore nuclear reactor." Commenting on the problems in the Indian nuclear energy sector, Powell said, "there is no transparency in India's nuclear policy".

She added, "nuclear reactors at Tarapore are truly short of nuclear fuel and Indian technological capability would be served well by the Indo-US nuclear pact." But she foresaw something very grim as far as disposal of nuclear waste was concerned.

"Unlike in the West where nuclear waste was generated because the civilian reactors did not recycle the waste to produce plutonium for military use, India has been recycling the radioactive waste from the nuclear reactors to produce plutonium for its defence-oriented nuclear program. The n-pact between India and US will require New Delhi to separate the military and the civilian reactors, which will impose a great cost on India and compel India to produce nuclear waste from its civilian nuclear reactors," Powell explained.

The energy expert added, "the issues behind the India-US nuclear deal will slowly evolve in the coming years." "Disposal of nuclear waste could generate huge controversy in India in the coming years, in case it is not handled judiciously," Lydia Powell cautioned.

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New options emerge over India-Myanmar Natural Gas deal

From Myanmar Times
20/7/2005

link
to this article.

India and Myanmar have agreed to consider alternative options for selling natural gas from an offshore field in Rakhine State to India, following a delay affecting a proposed trilateral pipeline which would pass through Bangladesh.

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The agreement to consider alternative options was agreed at a meeting between the Energy Minister, Brigadier-General Lun Thi, and his Indian counterpart, Mr Mani Shankar Aiyar, in New Delhi on July 6, said a statement issued by India’s Petroleum and Natural Gas Ministry.

The options include building a pipeline that bypasses Bangladesh and selling natural gas to India in liquefied form, the statement said.

It said a technical committee formed in January comprising energy officials from the three countries would meet in Yangon this month to consider the options.
The statement said India would continue negotiations with Bangladesh aimed at resolving bilateral issues to pave the way for an agreement on the trilateral pipeline.

It said Myanmar and India agreed that a trilateral pipeline would be the best option for selling the gas to India.

Bangladesh has set conditions for allowing the pipeline to pass through its territory, including an annual transit fee of US$125 million and allowing Dhaka to import electricity from Nepal and Bhutan through India.

Brigadier-General Lun Thi told the July 6 meeting that Myanmar's was responsibly only for supplying the gas to India and not the method of delivery, the statement said.

The A1 field off Rakhine State is being developed by a consortium headed by the South Korean conglomerate, Daewoo International, which has a 60 per cent share in the venture. India's state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) and Gas Authority of India Ltd., have 20 per cent and 10 per cent shares respectively. South Korea's state-owned KOGAS has the remaining 10 per cent.

Brigadier-General Lun Thi and Mr Aiyar also discussed granting permission for more Indian oil companies to explore and develop onshore and offshore sites in Myanmar, the statement said. The talks also covered New Delhi's decision to approve a loan of US$20 million to upgrade the state-owned Thanlyn refinery as well as the sale of diesel from India to Myanmar, it said.

It said India had proposed that an ONGC subsidiary, ONGC Videsh Ltd., be allowed to open a permanent office in Yangon to facilitate close cooperation with the Myanmar authorities and quick decision-making. The office would represent all Indian public companies involved in energy activities in Myanmar.

The subsidiary was due to open a temporary office in Yangon on July 8, the statement said.

It said the meeting also produced agreement for diesel from a refinery in Assam State to be sold to Myanmar.

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Bangladesh to abstain from Gas Pipeline talks in Delhi

Dhaka: Bangladesh has expressed its reluctance to attend the India-Burma talks on the proposed tri-nation gas pipeline project, scheduled to be held in New Delhi on Wednesday. Dhaka claims it received a delayed invitation.

Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Veena Sikri met the Advisor to the Energy Ministry of Bangladesh Mahmudur Rahman on Tuesday and inquired about Bangladesh's participation. "The time is too short for attending tomorrow's meeting in New Delhi," Rahman was stated to have told Sikri.

"If they can do without Bangladesh, let them go ahead, and good luck to them," Mr. Rahman told reporters in Dhaka on Tuesday.

Mr. Rahman said if India and Burma could find a better route for the gas pipeline, they will obviously go for it, but "If they feel that the route through Bangladesh will be a better option, they will have to come to us. We're waiting for the outcome of the bilateral negotiations between the two countries."

However, Burmese Energy Minister Lun Thi has gone to New Delhi to explore an alternative route in case Bangladesh does not join the $ 1-billion project.

"We have informed Bangladesh about the proposed talks between India and Burma on Wednesday, and through the Bangladesh High Commissioner forwarded an invitation to send an envoy to the talks," Indian Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar told reporters at a teleconference from Romania on Monday.

In case the Bangladesh envoy arrives, "We will convert the schedule to trilateral talks or we will continue to have bilateral talks with Burma," Aiyar added.

Dhaka wants India to first address issues like reduction of trade imbalance, providing a corridor for Nepalese goods to Bangladeshi ports and access to hydroelectric power in Bhutan.The Burmese Energy Minister's visit to New Delhi comes in the wake of a lack of movement of the proposal to construct an India-Burma gas pipeline passing through Bangladesh.
According to the original proposal, discussed and agreed upon in January 2005, the pipeline was to be routed through Arakan (Rakhine) state in Burma and the Indian states of Mizoram and Tripura before crossing into Bangladesh to reach Kolkata.

The new plan, which will work out to be more expensive and difficult to execute, may see the pipeline entering India through the northeast part of the country.

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Aiyar willing to visit Dhaka next month

Shahnaj Begum
From The Independent, Bangladesh
July 19, 2005
link to this article.

Indian Oil Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar has expressed his willingness to visit Bangladesh next month, a high official of the Indian High Commission yesterday informed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Aiyar made a request to the energy adviser to fix a suitable date next month for the visit and send a letter to the Foreign Ministry of India, according to sources at the Foreign office in Dhaka.

India is likely to continue its efforts to resolve issues with Bangladesh to facilitate the laying of gas pipeline from Myanmar to India via Bangladesh.

Last month the Myanmar Energy Minister visited New Delhi. The two sides discussed matters related to the proposed gas pipeline from Myanmar through Bangladesh and other alternatives to supply natural gas for Indian market. At the end of a day-long ministerial level meeting, agreed minutes were signed by the two sides. A technical committee was also formed to look into the matter and asked to meet by the end of the month to exchange views in this regard.

The Press Information Bureau of the Indian Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas in a press release yesterday said that the Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Mani Shankar Aiyar had wide ranging discussions with his counterpart from Myanmar Brigadier General Lun Thi on enhancing cooperation in the hydrocarbon sector.

Aiyar told journalists that the possibility of taking the pipeline from Myanmar into Mizoram and onwards to Assam ending in West Bengal, a distance of 1400 km, would also be explored. This route is roughly double the length of the pipeline should it travel through Bangladesh.

India and Myanmar have been working to boost their relations and establish cooperation on a wide range of economic and development issues, including roads, railways and energy.

The Myanmar minister said their estimates showed that the A1 block had about 9 trillion cubic feet of gas which might yield about seven million tonnes of LNG annually. He felt that India needed to take an early view on purchasing this LNG. India will be extending a credit of $20 millions to Myanmar for upgrading the Thanlyin refinery, according to the minutes of the meeting signed by the two sides.

UNB adds: Bangladesh did not participate in the New Delhi meeting as the invitation from the Indian side reportedly came too late. Moreover, Bangladesh wants India to first address the issues of trade imbalance, providing corridor for Nepalese goods to Bangladeshi ports and access to hydroelectric potential in Bhutan.

Since there has not been any progress in resolving the issues between India and Bangladesh, New Delhi and Yangoon took the initiative to find any viable alternative to lay the gas pipeline directly between the two countries excluding Bangladesh. Both sides agreed that the best alternative of gas supply from Myanmar to India would be through Myanmar-Bangladesh-India pipeline.

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Meet in Rangoon to discuss tri-nation gas pipeline project

Siddique Islam
From Mizzima News
13/ 07/ 2005!
www.mizzima.com, http://www.burmanet.org/ to this article.

Dhaka, Monday, July 12, 2005:
Energy officials from Burma, India and Bangladesh will meet later this month to iron out differences between New Delhi and Dhaka over the proposed tri-nation gas pipeline project. A techno-commercial working committee made up of officials from the three countries engaged in negotiations on the pipeline from Burma to India through Bangladesh will sit across the table in the second meeting in Rangoon this month, a Burmese newspaper reported on Monday.

The US $ one billion project, initiated by Bangladesh's Mohona Holdings Limited, envisages a pipeline that will carry gas from a newly developed gas field off the Burmese western Rakhine coast through Bangladesh to Kolkata in West Bengal, India.

Ruling out other options for the tri-nation pipeline, the techno-commercial working committee in the first meeting also decided that a loop line will be set up from Bangladesh's Brahmanbaria to Tripura for supplying gas to the Indian state from the main pipeline. In providing the right of way for the pipeline, Dhaka has proposed reduction of its huge trade imbalance with Delhi and sanction of an Indian corridor for Bangladesh's bilateral trade with Bhutan and Nepal. It wants to bring electricity from the two Himalayan kingdoms. Some media reports said in view of Dhaka's demands, New Delhi was considering alternate routes for the gas pipeline so that it would directly enter Indian territory from Burma bypassing Bangladesh.

Speculation over India's intention to bypass Bangladesh got a fillip when the energy ministers of India and Burma held a meeting last week in New Delhi. Dhaka refrained from attending the meeting as it was invited at the eleventh hour.

However, the two energy ministers decided that India and Bangladesh should try to work out an agreement for the trilateral pipeline. Dhaka also thinks that the "abrupt" meeting would not hamper the project.

"The project had been initiated as a tri-partite project and it should proceed on that basis. Bypassing Bangladesh would not only double the cost of the project, but such an attitude would also jeopardize its future," a senior government official said in Dhaka Monday. He also said that they are yet to find out about the meeting scheduled to be held in Rangoon later this month.

"We don't think that the techno-commercial committee should meet now. The most important thing is how to proceed to sign the MOU (memorandum of understanding) while finding ways for fulfilling conditions laid down by Bangladesh," the official observed. The energy ministers of the three countries agreed in principle in Rangoon in January this year on the laying of the gas pipeline and formed the techno-commercial committee. The committee had its first meeting in February.

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Dhaka, Delhi, Yangon to talk pipeline project this month

From News Forum Bangladesh
13/ 07/ 2005
http://bangladesh-web.com/news/view.php?hidDate=2005-07-12&hidType=TOP&hidRecord=0000000000000000052044
to this article.

Energy officials from Myanmar, India and Bangladesh will meet in Yangon later this month to iron out differences between New Delhi and Dhaka over a proposed tri-nation gas pipeline.(The Independent)

A technical committee comprising officials from the three countries engaged in negotiations on the construction of the trans-national gas pipeline from Myanmar to India via Bangladesh will meet in Yangon this month, the Myanmar Times newspaper reported Monday.The over $1 billion project envisages a pipeline that will carry gas from a newly developed gas field off Myanmar's western Rakhine coast via the Indian states of Mizoram and Tripura before crossing through Bangladesh to Kolkata in West Bengal.

Bangladesh, however, tagged some proposals to the project calling for reduction of the trade imbalance with India, provision of a corridor for Nepalese goods to Bangladeshi ports and access to hydroelectric power in Bhutan.

The technical committee meeting will be a follow-up of a bilateral meeting between Myanmar and Indian energy ministers in New Delhi last week during which it was decided that India and Bangladesh would try to work out an agreement for a trilateral pipeline.The energy ministers of the three countries agreed in principle during a meeting in Yangon in January this year on the laying of the gas pipeline. However, a formal signing of the agreement has been delayed up to now.
UNB, DHAKA

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Burma-India talks prefer Bangladesh's inclusion on gas pipeline

Siddique Islam
From Mizzima News
13/ 07/ 2005
www.mizzima.com to this article.

Dhaka, Thursday, July 07, 2005:
New Delhi will continue its efforts to sort out issues with Bangladesh to facilitate the laying of proposed tri-nation gas pipeline from Burma to India through Bangladesh.

The decision came at the Indo-Burma ministerial level meeting in New Delhi on Wednesday, according to a message received in Dhaka on Thursday from New Delhi.

During the meeting, Indian Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Mani Shankar Aiyar had wide ranging discussions with his counterpart his Burmese Minister Brig Lun Thi on enhancing cooperation in the hydrocarbon sector.

Bangladesh stayed away from the New Delhi meeting due to time constraint as the invitation from the Indian side came too late.

However, Dhaka wants Delhi to first address the issues of trade imbalance, providing corridor for Nepalese goods to Bangladeshi ports and access to hydroelectric potential in Bhutan.

Since there has not been any progress in resolving the issues between India and Bangladesh, New Delhi and Rangoon took the initiative to find a viable alternative to lay the gas pipeline directly between the two countries excluding Bangladesh.

According to the Press Information Bureau of India, the two sides discussed evacuation of gas from Burma (Myanmar) through the Burma-Bangladesh-India pipeline and other alternatives to access natural gas resources for Indian market.

Both sides agreed that the best way of gas evacuation from Burma to India would be through the proposed tri-nation gas pipeline project.

"However, there has been some delay in taking further action on this initiative due to some outstanding bilateral issues between India and Bangladesh," the Press Information Bureau said in its release.

It added that the Indian government would continue to sort out the issue with Bangladesh about the three points tagged with the $1 billion tri-national gas pipeline initiative. Besides, New Delhi and Rangoon have formed a techno-commercialcommittee to examine the possibility of laying a pipeline from Burma to India bypassing Bangladesh.The joint group will also explore the possibilities of importing gas by ship in its liquefied (LNG) or compressed (CNG) state, Indian Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar said after the talks with his counterpart in New Delhi.

They have also assigned Italian Snam Progetti for a feasibility study for taking gas from Burma to India without using Bangladesh territory, sources in Dhaka said.

"The two sides formed a new techno-commercial committee although one such committee comprising officials and experts from Burma, Bangladesh and India has been working on the project," said an official in Dhaka.

The (first) committee was formed after energy ministers of the three countries held a meeting in Rangoon in January and issued a joint statement agreeing in principle to the 900-kilometre pipeline project.

Industry sources said that India is now trying to bypass Bangladesh from the project as New Delhi is not willing to give into Dhaka's conditions for allowing right of way for the cross-border pipeline over the territory of Bangladesh.

Bangladesh later formed an inter-ministerial committee to present a concrete proposal on its conditions. "But, before it was handed over to India, New Delhi and Rangoon apparently opted for the option to exclude Bangladesh," said the official.

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Dhaka skips tri-nation talks on gas

Mizan Rahman
From Gulf Time
DHAKA: Bangladesh is not joining India and Myanmar in the talks on the proposed gas pipeline scheduled to be held in New Delhi yesterday as Dhaka said the invitation for the Delhi meeting came only on Tuesday.
Myanmar Energy Minister Lun Thi is in New Delhi to explore an alternative route in case Bangladesh does not join the $1bn project.

"We have informed Bangladesh about the proposed talks between India and Myanmar (on Wednesday), and through the Bangladesh High Commissioner forwarded an invitation to send an envoy to the talks," Indian Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar told reporters at a teleconference from Romania on Monday.

In case the Bangladesh envoy arrives, "We would convert the schedule to trilateral talks or we would have bilateral talks with Myanmar," said Aiyar.

Advisor to Energy Ministry and Board of Investment (BOI) executive chief Mahmudur Rahman told reporters that Indian High Commissioner Veena Sikri met him on Tuesday and inquired about Bangladesh’s participation in the meeting.

Rahman told Sikri, "Time is too short for attending Wednesday's meeting in New Delhi." Asked if Bangladesh is excluded from the tri-nation gas pipeline, he said, "If they could do without Bangladesh, let them do, good luck to them."

He said if India and Myanmar could find a better route for the gas pipeline, they would obviously go for that, but "If they feel that the route through Bangladesh will be better option, they will come to us. We're waiting for the outcome of bilateral negotiations between India and Myanmar."

In reply to a question, Rahman said he is waiting for official response from India regarding Bangladesh’s three-point proposal seemingly tagged with the tri-nation gas pipeline project.

Bangladesh wants India to first address issues like reduction of trade imbalance, providing corridor for Nepalese goods to Bangladeshi ports and access to hydroelectric potential in Bhutan.

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Rupee peg in diesel export to Myanmar

S.P.S. PANNU
From The Telegraph, Kolkata, India
July 11, 2005
link to this article.

The petroleum ministry has requested the finance ministry to allow it to export diesel on a trial basis to Myanmar against payments in the Indian currency.

The move is part of petroleum minister Mani Shankar Aiyar's oil diplomacy, which aims to promote co-operation between the two neighbours in the hydrocarbon sector.

If the approval comes through, Numaligarh Refinery will be able to despatch diesel consignments by road through the Northeast to Myanmar.

The finance ministry has raised questions about the mode of payment as the low volume of trade between the two countries does not generate enough rupees for Myanmar to pay in the Indian currency. It fears that diesel purchases in rupees could lead to money laundering.

Senior officials of the ministry of external affairs are unable to explain from official data why the rupee trade with Myanmar is growing so rapidly.

However, oil industry officials familiar with ground realities in the Northeast are of the view that substantial informal trade in teak and ivory takes place with Myanmar through the land border. This could explain the accumulation of Indian rupees in the neighbouring country.

Myanmar also imports goods from Thailand and pays in bahts. Hence, India expects a similar facility.

The petroleum ministry wants permits for exporting 12,000 tonnes of diesel annually on a trial basis. It has suggested that this could later be increased and payments for diesel exports could be adjusted against India's imports of natural gas from Myanmar.

Pak delegation
A seven-member team of Pakistani petroleum officials is coming to India tomorrow to take part in the first meeting of the joint working group on the proposed $4.6 billion Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project, PTI said.

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India, Myanmar exploring to bypass Bangla for gas pipeline

From The Hindustan Times, India
July 9, 2005
link to this article.

With Bangladesh putting roadblocks in the way of the proposed Myanmar-India gas pipeline, New Delhi and Yangoon today decided to explore other options for importing gas from offshore Myanmar.

A techno-commercial group would examine possibility of laying the pipeline by-passing Bangladesh and importing gas through ships in its liquefied (LNG) or compressed state (CNG), Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar said at the conclusion of day-long deliberations with Myanmerese Energy Minister Lun Thi here.

Dhaka, 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 two-billion dollar trade deficit.

New Delhi has opposed making bilateral issues part of a trilateral agreement.

The pipeline is to carry gas found in Bay of Bengal block A-1 and possible reserves in adjoining A-3 and other blocks. Indian firms ONGC Videsh Ltd and GAIL have 30 per cent stake in the A-1 and A-3 blocks.

Thi said A-1 block holds 11.9 to 19.4 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves and India's share from it would be 11-12 per cent.

Aiyar said possibility of taking the pipeline from Myanmar into Mizoram and onwards to Assam and culminating in West Bengal, a distance of 1400 km, would also be explored. This route is roughly double the length the pipeline would travel if it were to pass through Bangladesh.

Aiyar said 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.

OIL-Indian Oil Corp-GAIL had last month bid for onshore blocks RSF-6 and RSF-9. Yangon was also open to Indian firms bidding for offshore blocks.

However, talks on export of diesel from Numaligarh Refinery Ltd to Myanmar have not progressed well, Aiyar said, adding discussions would shortly resume on price, delivery point, specification of diesel and mode of payment.

"The Myanmar side indicated that while to begin with, they need 12,000 tonnes per annum of diesel, the demand is likely to grow much more," he said. GAIL has also proposed to put up a LPG extraction plant with 256,000 tonnes per annum capacity in Myanmar, he said.

Officials said the External Affairs Ministry has opposed acceding to Bangladesh's demand for a trade and power corridor to Nepal and Bhutan and measures to reduce Dhaka's trade deficit with India, which stands at a staggering two billion dollars.

The MEA has noted that "under no circumstances should India accept any of the (Bangladesh's) conditions... That will encourage Dhaka to tie up unrelated conditionalities in future negotiations on other issues, as it is always prone to do. India will always consider bonafide demands from Bangladesh but they cannot start unfair bargaining."

The proposed pipeline would start from Arakan in Myanmar and enter the northeastern states of Mizoram and Tripura before penetrating Bangladesh through the Brahmanbaria area and on to the Rajshahi border and Kolkata.

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India, Myanmar may bypass Bangladesh for gas pipeline - Other options to be explored

From The Hindu Business line, India
July 7, 2005
link to this article.

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.

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Route hunt for Myanmar pipeline

From The Telegraph, Kolkata
July 7, 2005
link to this article.

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.

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Bangladesh Does Not Join Tri-National Gas Pipeline Talk in New Delhi

From Narinjara News, Bangladesh
July 6, 2005
link to this article.

The tri-nations gas pipeline conference will be held today in New Delhi, but representatives for Bangladesh will not be attending, according to a report of a Bangladeshi news agency.
Bangladesh cancelled plans to send its delegation as the invitation to attend came only one day prior to the meeting.

"Time is very short for attending tomorrow's meeting in New Delhi," Mahmudur Rahman, advisor to the energy ministry of Bangladesh, told Indian High Commissioner Veena Sikri in a meeting yesterday.

India's High Commissioner inquired about Bangladesh's participation in the meeting, Rahman said.

There was a report on July 3rd that India had decided to exclude Bangladesh from the proposed overland gas pipeline between India, Burma, and Bangladesh.

However, Mr Rahman stated on the fifth that they couldn't go ahead without Bangladesh; "but let them try," he said.

He said that if India and Burma can find a better route for the gas pipeline, they will obviously go for that, but the route through Bangladesh will be the best option.

In January of this year, it was announced that the pipeline would run through Arakan state in Burma and the Indian states of Mizoram and Tripura before crossing Bangladesh to reach India's west Bengal capital, Kolkata.

But Bangladesh has not signed onto the agreement because India will not agree to allow its territory to be used as a trade corridor between Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh.

Bangladesh wants India to first address issues such as the reduction of the trade imbalance, providing a corridor for Nepalese goods to Bangladeshi ports, and access to potential hydroelectric power in Bhutan.

Burma's Energy Minister Lun Thi is now in New Delhi to explore alternative routes in case Bangladesh does not join in the $1 billion pipeline project.

The proposed pipeline was on of several options that India has been considering for bringing gas reserves from the Shwe Gas Field's block A-1 site in Burma. India's state-run oil and natural gas corporation has a 20 percent stake in Burma's A-1 and A-3 blocks, while GAIL has a 10 percent stake in the two sites.

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Myanmar-India pipeline discussions tomorrow

From The Hindustan Times, India
July 5, 2005
link to this article.

India and Myanmar will discuss laying of a 1-billion dollar pipeline for transporting natural gas found in offshore Myanmar to India via Bangaldesh.

Besides the pipeline, Indian interest in exploration for oil and gas in Myanmar, particularly in onshore blocks, is likely to figure prominently during day-long discussions Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar will have with visiting Myanmarese Energy Minister Lun Thi here tomorrow, officials said.

Though the three countries had in-principle agreement on a pipeline originating from Arakan in Myanmar to Kolkata, not much progress has been made due to pre-conditions set by Bangladesh for allowing its passage through its territory.

Officials said India's Foreign Ministry has opposed acceding to Bangladeshi demand for a trade and power corridor to Nepal and Bhutan and its instance of New Delhi taking measures to reduce Dhaka's trade deficit with India, which stands at a staggering two-billion dollars.

"Aiyar and Lun Thi will discuss way forward on the pipeline which is to bring India's share of natural gas found in A-1 field in offshore Myanmar," an official said.

Also to figure during discussions would be Myanmar's demand for 4-5 dollars per million British thermal unit (mBtu) price for gas to be exported to India. The price sought by Yangoon is 30 per cent more than free market price in India.

Aiyar will also take up the issue of ban by Myanmar on foreign companies bidding for onshore blocks. Oil India Ltd, Indian Oil Corp and GAIL had submitted bids for onshore exploration blocks RSF-6 and RSF-9 last month.

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Dhaka stays cool to India's new idea about gas pipeline

From Xinhua, China
July 3, 2005
link to this article.

Dhaka will not mind if New Delhi decides to exclude Bangladesh from the proposed overland gas pipeline between India and Myanmar, said a senior Bangladeshi official.

The Financial Express Sunday quoted Mahmudur Rahman, adviser tothe Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources as saying that Bangladesh will welcome new plan on the proposed tri-nation gas line project that might bypass Bangladesh to safeguard India's strategic interests.

India, however, is yet to inform Bangladesh about its change ofmind, Rahman noted.

A Gas Authority of India (GAIL) official disclosed last Thursday that India is seriously considering a proposal to redesign the gas pipeline so that it runs entirely through Indian territory skipping Bangladesh altogether.

According to the new scheme, the pipeline will enter India through the northeastern parts of India.

In January this year, it was announced that the pipeline would run through Arakan state in Myanmar and the Indian states of Mizoram and Tripura before crossing Bangladesh to reach India's West Bengal capital Kolkata.

Experts here, however, expressed their strong reservations about the new Indian plan, if there is any. They said it would be an almost impossible task to build a gas pipeline through the difficult terrain of the northeastern region of India.

They maintained that the so-called new plan was a "ploy" to create pressure on Bangladesh that had tagged a number of bilateral issues with the proposed pipeline.

The tri-nation pipeline project was initiated by the country's private Mohona Holdings Limited in 1997. The governments of India and Myanmar have already approved the Mohona's proposal for the cross-border pipeline. But Bangladesh is yet to approve the proposal. Bangladesh has been pressing India for a corridor to conduct trade with Nepal and the permission to use its land for bringing in hydro power from Bhutan and Nepal as the price for allowing the pipeline to run through its territory.

Dhaka is also demanding removal of existing trade barriers between India and Bangladesh.

Such demands, according to the Indian officials, are reasons for the proposed realignment of the tri-nation pipeline.

The length of the pipeline as per original plan will be 900 kilometers long. But if India decides to bypass Bangladesh, the pipeline will be 500 km longer.

The proposed pipeline was one of several options India has beenconsidering to bring gas reserves from the Shwe Field's Bloc A-1 site in Myanmar. India's state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corporationhas a 20 percent stake in Myanmar's A-1 and A-3 blocks, while GAILhas a 10 percent stake in the two sites.

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India, Myanmar exploring to bypass Bangla for gas pipeline

From The Hindustan Times, India
July 9, 2005
link to this article.

With Bangladesh putting roadblocks in the way of the proposed Myanmar-India gas pipeline, New Delhi and Yangoon today decided to explore other options for importing gas from offshore Myanmar.

A techno-commercial group would examine possibility of laying the pipeline by-passing Bangladesh and importing gas through ships in its liquefied (LNG) or compressed state (CNG), Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar said at the conclusion of day-long deliberations with Myanmerese Energy Minister Lun Thi here.

Dhaka, 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 two-billion dollar trade deficit.

New Delhi has opposed making bilateral issues part of a trilateral agreement.

The pipeline is to carry gas found in Bay of Bengal block A-1 and possible reserves in adjoining A-3 and other blocks. Indian firms ONGC Videsh Ltd and GAIL have 30 per cent stake in the A-1 and A-3 blocks.

Thi said A-1 block holds 11.9 to 19.4 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves and India's share from it would be 11-12 per cent.

Aiyar said possibility of taking the pipeline from Myanmar into Mizoram and onwards to Assam and culminating in West Bengal, a distance of 1400 km, would also be explored. This route is roughly double the length the pipeline would travel if it were to pass through Bangladesh.

Aiyar said 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.

OIL-Indian Oil Corp-GAIL had last month bid for onshore blocks RSF-6 and RSF-9. Yangon was also open to Indian firms bidding for offshore blocks.

However, talks on export of diesel from Numaligarh Refinery Ltd to Myanmar have not progressed well, Aiyar said, adding discussions would shortly resume on price, delivery point, specification of diesel and mode of payment.

"The Myanmar side indicated that while to begin with, they need 12,000 tonnes per annum of diesel, the demand is likely to grow much more," he said. GAIL has also proposed to put up a LPG extraction plant with 256,000 tonnes per annum capacity in Myanmar, he said.

Officials said the External Affairs Ministry has opposed acceding to Bangladesh's demand for a trade and power corridor to Nepal and Bhutan and measures to reduce Dhaka's trade deficit with India, which stands at a staggering two billion dollars.

The MEA has noted that "under no circumstances should India accept any of the (Bangladesh's) conditions... That will encourage Dhaka to tie up unrelated conditionalities in future negotiations on other issues, as it is always prone to do. India will always consider bonafide demands from Bangladesh but they cannot start unfair bargaining."

The proposed pipeline would start from Arakan in Myanmar and enter the northeastern states of Mizoram and Tripura before penetrating Bangladesh through the Brahmanbaria area and on to the Rajshahi border and Kolkata.

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