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SHWE Gas Movement News

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

 

Bangladesh to Bid for Gas and Oil Exploration in Bay of Bengal

From Narinjara News
5/25/2006

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to this article.

Bangladesh is now in a position to bid for gas and oil exploration in its waters in the Bay of Bengal, following in India and Burma's footsteps who have already begun exploration in the deep waters in the Bay.

"India and Myanmar have already begun exploration.. We should not wait anymore," Advisor of the Bangladesh Energy Ministry Mahmudur Rahman Monday told the audience in a seminar.

Mr Rahman said that the third round of bidding for oil and gas exploration would be initiated upon the tenure of the present government of Bangladesh.

The third round of bidding would be initiated under the framework of a new Production Sharing Contract (PSC), said a report by UNB, a Bangladeshi news agency, quoting to Mr Rahman.

He also said this bidding would focus specifically on the country's deep-sea areas.

He noted that Petrobangla - the state hydrocarbon authority - has already initiated a move to remove a court order that barred any international bidding for hydrocarbon exploration.

He urged all to expose the country's positive image in the international arena to attract foreign direct investment in the country's hydrocarbon and other sectors.

Bangladesh's Energy Division Secretary, M Nasir Uddin, also spoke at the seminar.

The seminar on Hydrocarbon Exploration was organized by the Bangladesh Geological Society in the city on 22 May,2006.#

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"Myanmar will never encroach on Bangladesh territorial waters"

From UNB/ The News Today
May 22 2006

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to this article.

Myanmar authorities have assured that they would never encroach into Bangladesh territorial waters, saying that they believe in good neighborly relations, as the two countries agreed on a number of issues of cooperation, reports UNB.

The assurance was given to Foreign Secretary Hemayetuddin during his visit to Yangon where he held first formal Foreign Secretary-level consultations with his Myanmar counterpart Deputy Foreign Minister U Kyaw Thu on May 19.

"They (Myanmar) do not believe they have made any encroachment…They assured they will never encroach into Bangladesh territorial water at any point of time," he told newsmen at the Foreign Ministry on his return from Yangon.

Bangladesh earlier had lodged protests to both Myanmar and India against exploring hydrocarbon into Bangladesh's maritime boundary in the Bay of Bengal.

Describing the first-ever Foreign Secretary-level consultation as constructive and fruitful, Hemayet said all bilateral issues, including repatriation of Rohingya refugees, border security, road connection and bilateral trade and investment, were discussed.

He said the Myanmar side agreed to repatriate the remaining 21, 172 l Rohingyas sheltered in Cox's Bazar. They expressed readiness to take back 8,000 already cleared by Myanmar authorities. After the repatriation of 8,000 through UNHCR, the remaining Rohingyas will be taken back. The two sides agreed to strengthen border security to stop illegal movements, particularly of drug smugglers and gunrunners. They agreed on holding frequent meetings between the border guards of the two countries--BDR and NASAKA--to maintain a secure and peaceful border.

On bilateral trade, the FS said the two sides agreed to increase the trade volume through border and coastal trade by improving the banking system and shipping line. They expressed keen interest in importing more pharmaceutical products from Bangladesh.

Two-way trade favours Myanmar as Bangladesh imported $ 32.43 million against its export of $ 4.18 million in 2004-05 fiscal year.

The Myanmar side agreed to ease the visa regime for businessmen by extending visa for at least 15 days.

On construction of Bangladesh-Myanmar road, Hemayet said the two sides would soon sign an MOU on construction of 23-km road (2 kms on Bangladesh side 23 kms on Myanmar side) as the two subcommittees completed study on technical and financial aspects.

The proposed road could be linked with Kunming of China on consultation with the Chinese government to establish a greater connectivity in the region.

The two sides also discussed cooperation in defence in the form of training of military personnel.

On the stalled project for tri-nation gas pipeline, Hemayet said the Myanmar side raised the issue when he told them that settlement of some bilateral issues with India could make the way for the trans-border pipeline.

About the release of Bangladeshis in Myanmar prison, Hemayet said he urged his counterpart to take humanitarian look at some Bangladeshi nationals imprisoned over there. Some 89 Bangladeshis, mostly fishermen, are now imprisoned in Myanmar while some 500 Myanmar nationals are in Bangladeshi jails.

The two sides also agreed to exchange cultural delegations between the two countries.

Hemayet said the Myanmar side invited Foreign Minister Morshed Khan to visit Yangon while the Myanmar Prime Minister is expected to visit Dhaka.

Source:Bangladesh

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Burma Denies Accusation of Exploration in Bangladesh Waters

From Narinjara News
5/22/2006

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to this article.

Burma military authority denied the accusation that it has engaged in gas and oil exploration in Bangladesh's maritime zones during the foreign secretary level consultations between Burma and Bangladesh which was held in Rangoon on 19 May 2006, official sources said.The Burmese authority assured that they have never encroached into Bangladesh's maritime zones for oil and gas exploration and they will never do it in the future.

The assurance was given by Burma's Deputy Foreign Minister, Kyaw Thu, to Bangladesh's Foreign Secretary, Hemayetuddin, at the meeting.
"They [Burma] do not believe they have made any encroachment… they assured that they will never encroach on Bangladesh's waters at any point in time," Hemayet told newsmen at the foreign Ministry yesterday upon his return from Burma.

Bangladeshi authorities complained earlier that both Burma and India have been exploring hydrocarbons in Bangladesh's maritime boundary in the Bay of Bengal. Bangladesh's Foreign Secretary said that the consultation was fruitful and constructive and he discussed a number of bilateral issues including the repatriation of Burmese Muslim Refugees, border security, road connections, trade and investment during the talks.

Burma agreed to repatriate the remaining 21,172 Burmese refugees sheltered in Cox'sbazar, Bangladesh. Burma expressed readiness to take back 8,000 refugees already cleared by the Burmese authority, the Foreign Secretary said.

The Secretary said that the two sides have agreed to increase the trade volume through border and coastal trade by improving the banking system and shipping lines. Burma expressed keen interest in importing more pharmaceutical products from Bangladesh. Two-way trade favors Burma as Bangladesh imported $ 32.43 million against the export of $4.18 million in the 2004-05 fiscal year.

The two sides also agreed to strengthen border security to stop illegal movement, particularly that of drug smugglers and gunrunners. They agreed to hold frequent meetings between the border guards of the two countries in order to maintain a secure and peaceful border. #

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India to develop 13 inland trade centers to boost commerce

From GAUHATI,India(AP)
May 20, 2006

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to this article.

GAUHATI, India (AP) - India plans to build 13 trade centers along its borders at a cost of 9 billion rupees (US$185 million; euro154 million) within three years to boost commerce with its South Asian neighbors, a government minister said Saturday.

Eight will be developed along India's border with Bangladesh, four along the border with Nepal, and one with Pakistan, Junior Commerce Minister Jairam Ramesh said in an interview.

The trade centers, known as inland ports, are designated pickup and drop-off zones near borders for goods transported by truck.

They provide trade corridors between nations, especially landlocked countries. "This ambitious project that is expected to be in place within three years will be executed by the newly set up Inland Port Corp of India," Ramesh said.

India also is helping neighboring Myanmar to modernize its Sittway port to open navigational access for India through the Koldoyne River to Mizoram state to reduce its dependence on Bangladesh for transit.

The government is eager to remove economic bottlenecks in India's remote northeastern region, which shares borders with China, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Bhutan, he said.

"The inland port at Nathu La, along the border with China in Sikkim state, is going to be functional within two months," Ramesh said.

India has been pressing Bangladesh to allow greater transit facilities to access the northeastern Indian states.

"We are officially prepared to enter into a commercial deal with Bangladesh by offering Dhaka a flat fee of US$2 billion (euro1.6 billion) a year in lieu of transit facilities through that country. That way, Bangladesh's grouse of a trade imbalance can also be addressed," Ramesh said.

Indian exports to Bangladesh total about US$2 billion (euro1.6 billion) a year, while imports from its neighbor are worth only about US$100 million (euro83 million).- AP

Source:India

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India's move on Burma gas upsets Bangladesh

From NewsInsight
20/5/2006

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to this article.

Bangladesh has threatened to scrap all gas supply agreements with India if it takes its gas pipeline from Myanmar via Mizoram, but the government is going ahead.

Bangladesh which has been unable to overcome internal opposition to be a supplier to India hoped for a royalty and share from the Myanmar pipeline and believed it was Indian posturing to consider the alternate Mizoram route.

The secondary Mizoram route was thought high cost and terrain unfriendly, but French consultants say it could meet Indian needs and be built within a time frame.

Source:India.

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Terms and Conditions of Bangladesh for Tri-Nation Gas Pipeline are not Acceptable to India

Iftekhar ahmed
From Narinjara News
5/19/2006

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to this article.

The much talked about tri-nation gas pipeline between Burma, Bangladesh and India to be built to transport Burma's gas to India has made no progress as of yet. Bangladesh did not approve of the said gas pipeline nor has it made progress to settle the matter, Indian Minister of the State for Petroleum and Natural Gas, Dinsha Patel, said.

During the session of Rajya Sabha (national assembly) of India the minister said, "Bangladesh wants the inclusion of certain bilateral issues in the trilateral MoU which is not acceptable to India."

While replying to a question the Minister said, "India is pursuing the option of a gas pipeline from Burma through the north-eastern states of India, bypassing Bangladesh."

Bangladesh demanded to minimize the trade gap between India and Bangladesh, arguing that goods needed to be traded to and from Nepal and Bhutan, but India is reluctant about this.

In this situation the state-run Gas Authority of India Ltd (GAIL) has prepared a feasibility report on the project to import gas from Burma bypassing Bangladesh.#

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Bangladesh Foreign Ministry summons Burma envoy on illegal exploration

From Narinjara News
Fri 19 May 2006

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to this article.

In what is becoming a contentious issue the Bangladesh Acting Foreign Secretary summoned U Thane Myint, Burmese Ambassador to Bangladesh yesterday to the Bangladesh Foreign Office and complained about the illegal exploration of oil and gas in the Bay of Bengal, official sources said.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bangladesh intruding into the non-demarcated maritime zone of Bangladesh in the Bay of Bengal by Burma and India is not acceptable to Bangladesh.

The Burmese Ambassador in Dhaka, U Thane Myint was conveyed this message in no certain terms by the Acting Foreign Secretary AHM Moniruzzaman when he was summoned to the foreign office yesterday.

The Bangladesh foreign office handed over a note to the Burmese envoy drawing the attention of the government of Burma to the news items published regarding allocation of non-demarcated maritime zones of Bangladesh to conduct survey for exploration of oil and gas in the Bay of Bengal by Burma and India.

The note sought the cooperation of Burma for more details about allocation of non-demarcated blocks in the Bay of Bengal for better interest and good neighbourly relations between Burma and Bangladesh.

Bangladesh Acting Foreign Secretary also summoned the India envoy to the foreign office yesterday relating to the same matter.

The Bangladesh Foreign Secretary reached Rangoon yesterday to discuss bilateral issues between the two countries and is likely to raise the issue of intrusion into Bangladesh maritime zone by Burma.

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India offered Burma cash

From Mizzima News
18 May 2006
link to this article.

India offered Burma cash for surplus compressed natural gas imports yesterday without waiting for the finalisation of a deal for gas from Arakan State's A1 and A3 blocks.

"India has offered to give cash for whatever quantity of gas Mynamar is willing to offer from the surplus it currently has after supplies to Thailand," a senior petroleum ministry official said on the sidelines of an energy conference in New Delhi on Wednesday.

The statement came after Burma's ambassador to India assured the country Burma had more than enough gas to go around.

The official also said Burma supplied gas from the Yadana and Yetagun fields at different prices with Yanadan the lowest.

"We have sought gas supplies at the same cost as that supplied to Thailand from Yadana gas fields," he said.

"We have told them that we would be willing to lift the gas supplies within nine months of the deal being finalised and bring it to India in the form of CNG."

According to estimates, Burma has about 200,000 tons of surplus gas.

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Myanmar on laughing gas

By Sudha Ramachandran
From South Asia
May 18, 2006

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to this article.

BANGALORE - India's quest for energy security has received a boost, with neighboring Myanmar signaling its willingness to sell it natural gas. But even as the modalities of the deal are being worked out, their common neighbor Bangladesh is upset over having been dropped from a pipeline proposal to bring the gas to energy-hungry Indian markets.

Myanmar has agreed to sell India gas from the A-1 block in the Shwe field off the coast of Arakan state. The Shwe field comprises several blocks of gas of unconfirmed size. Of these, A-1 block is estimated to be the largest, containing 2.88 trillion to 3.56 trillion cubic feet of gas.

South Korean giant Daewoo International is the largest stakeholder (60%). The remaining 40% is divided between the state-owned Korean Gas Corp (10%) and India's state-owned ONGC Videsh Ltd (20%) and the Gas Authority of India Ltd (10%). (ONGC Videsh Ltd is the overseas arm of the Oil and Natural Gas Corp, and GAIL is India's largest gas transmission and marketing company.)

Until early this year, it was assumed that gas from the A-1 block would go to India exclusively. India, Bangladesh and Myanmar had been deliberating and had even reached agreement in principle regarding an overland pipeline that would run through Myanmar's Arakan and Chin states, then through Bangladesh into India.

But even as deliberations over that pipeline ran aground, India's desire to slake its thirst for gas through sourcing Myanmar's gas fields received a blow when in December Myanmar signed a memorandum with PetroChina, an oil and gas company based in Beijing, for the sale of gas from the A-1 block.

"That agreement with China was perceived as a serious setback to our quest for energy security," an official in the Indian Ministry for Petroleum told Asia Times Online, recalling that it wasn't the first time that India's failure to be proactive had resulted in the country losing out on other blocks in the Shwe field. This apparently prompted Delhi to pursue its goals more aggressively in recent months.

That approach has borne fruit. Myanmar is now willing to supply gas to India as well as China. Allaying Indian apprehensions that the sale of gas to China would affect its availability to India, Myanmar's ambassador in New Delhi, U Kyi Thein, said his country had enough gas supplies to meet the demands of both countries.

India's efforts at accessing Myanmar's gas have paid off, but they come at a high price. To offer Myanmar a better deal than the Chinese, India has agreed to buy gas on a "take or pay" basis. Under this arrangement, India will give Myanmar guaranteed earnings for its gas every year even if it is not able to access the gas.

Indian officials might be patting themselves on the back for their success with the gas deal, but it is Myanmar that has once again displayed shrewdness in its diplomacy with its two giant neighbors India and China. This is not the first time that Myanmar has come out the winner in the Sino-Indian battle for influence in the country.

For decades, India and China have kept a wary eye on each other's influence in Myanmar. Their battle for influence in Myanmar heated up significantly over the past decade, with India too beginning to court the generals who rule the country after scorning them for years. China, in contrast, was always happy doing business with them.

When the international community condemned Myanmar's junta for its ruthless suppression of student protests in 1988 - India was among the most vocal of the junta's critics - China stood by the generals. Myanmar's generals returned the favor a year later when China was in the doghouse for the massacres of students at Beijing's Tiananmen Square. Sino-Myanmar relations grew from strength to strength thereafter.

For India, the costs of spurning the generals became apparent, prompting a rethink of its Myanmar policy. This resulted in a switch from overtly backing the pro-democracy movement to toning down that support and engaging the generals. The threat to India's security that the Sino-Myanmar military and economic cooperation posed - there is concern that China's "listening post" on the Coco Islands is aimed at monitoring Indian naval activity and its missile program - was perhaps the main factor that spurred the Indian rethink.

But there were other reasons, too. India realized that it needed the cooperation of the junta if it was to be able to tackle insurgency in its northeastern states. There were also economic considerations - India sees Myanmar as its land-bridge to Southeast Asia. India needed Myanmar to boost its "Look East" policy.

The generals were quick to sense opportunity in India's anxieties. While they are keen to be seen shaking hands with India, which gives the junta the stamp of approval of the world's largest democracy, they also recognize that India, anxious to keep the Chinese away from its doorstep, will go the extra mile to keep the generals happy.

Myanmar is aware that China too will accommodate the generals to ensure that they continue to provide Beijing access to the Bay of Bengal. The generals have not been averse to playing on the anxieties and ambitions of their two giant neighbors. The junta has bargained skillfully. From China they get military supplies, including lethal equipment. From India, they get help in developing infrastructure.

It is in this context that the recent deals with China and India should be seen. Myanmar decided to sell gas to China, as it was not keen to set aside the gas exclusively for India and to wait forever for the India-Bangladesh tangle over the pipeline to get resolved. It wasn't looking to shut out India, though. It was aiming for a better price by stepping up the competition. This resulted in China's entry into the picture.

And Myanmar is not done with the hard bargaining yet. "Talks are on with both the countries. We are still in the negotiation stage and have not finalized with either India or China," Myanmar's envoy to India said.

The Bangladeshi route

India, meanwhile, is still exploring options to bring in the gas. The pipeline through Bangladeshi territory has now been dumped. Although Dhaka stood to gain significantly from transit fees, it was not satisfied with those alone. It had demanded major trade and transit concessions from India for allowing the pipeline to be laid through its territory. The demands were unacceptable to India, prompting it to shelve the proposal.

But a miffed Bangladesh is now raising objections to a direct Myanmar-India pipeline. It has also accused the two countries of encroaching into Bangladeshi territorial waters - the maritime boundary is not demarcated yet - to explore hydrocarbon deposits.

But a pipeline from Bangladesh through the sea to India is just one of the options on the table. In a recent presentation to its A-1 and A-3 block partners, India put forward eight alternative routes - three via land and three undersea, besides bringing the gas as liquefied natural gas and compressed natural gas by tanker.

At that meeting, India indicated its preference for a land route via its northeastern states. The proposed route runs along Myanmar's west coast into the Indian state of Mizoram, through Assam and into West Bengal. Gas from India's fields in Tripura will also flow into this pipeline. The proposed pipeline through India's northeastern states is 500 kilometers longer than the pipeline that would have run through Bangladesh's territory. This could hike costs by about US$300 million.

But a pipeline through Indian territory is well worth the additional investment, reason officials, as it would transform the economies of the states it passes through. Since the gas from Myanmar is expected to flow over a period of 15-20 years or even longer, the additional expenses of laying the pipeline are well worth it, the officials say. India is hoping that the gas pipeline and the consequent economic transformation could help quell the insurgencies in this strife-torn region.

The Myanmar junta and energy-hungry India and China are looking to gas from the Shwe fields with heightened expectations. The junta could earn as much as $3 billion annually. This is expected to strengthen its grip on power.

Pro-democracy activists are critical of the gas deal and are calling on India to call it off. They are reminding India of its commitment to democracy in Myanmar, but they may be whistling in the wind.

Source:Bangladesh
Sudha Ramachandran is an independent journalist/researcher based in Bangalore.

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Dhaka's terms not acceptable to India

From The DailY Star
Wednesday May 17 2006

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to this article.

Indian Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dinsha Patel said no progress has been made in securing Bangladesh's nod for a gas pipeline to transport gas from Myanmar through Bangladesh.(The DailY Star)

"Bangladesh wants the inclusion of certain bilateral issues in the trilateral MoU which is not acceptable to India," he said in Rajya Sabha yesterday.

Dhaka is demanding, among other things, reduction of trade deficit between India and Bangladesh and transit for trading goods to and from Nepal and Bhutan.

"India is pursuing the option of a gas pipeline from Myanmar through the north-eastern states of India bypassing Bangladesh," he said in reply to a question.

The state-run Gas Authority of India Ltd (GAIL) has prepared a feasibility report on the project, he said, adding that discussions with Myanmar concerning the project are continuing.

On Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline, Patel said second secretary-level trilateral meeting is scheduled for May 22-24 at Islamabad. "Various project related issues including those relating to the project structure, framework agreement and pricing will be discussed in these meetings," the minister added.

Patel said the Steering Committee of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan (TAP) pipeline has invited India to become a partner in the project and "the matter is being examined."

An Indian delegation led by the minister visited Ashgabat, Turkmenistan on February 14-15 to participate in the 9th Steering Committee meeting of TAP as an observer.

Source:Bangladesh

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Gas pipeline from Myanmar likely to bypass Bangladesh

From NEW DELHI
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
link to this article.

NEW DELHI, MAY 16: India plans to bypass Bangladesh altogether and instead lay a line through North-eastern states for bringing gas from Myanmar. Dhaka continues to insist on the inclusion of certain bilateral issues in the trilateral MoU on the gas pipeline project between India, Myanmar and Bangladesh.

"No progress has been achieved (in getting Dhaka's nod for the Myanmar-Bangladesh-India pipeline) as Bangladesh is putting pre-conditions in the trilateral MoU, which is not acceptable to India," the minister of state for petroleum and natural gas Dinsha Patel said.

Dhaka, among other things, is demanding correction of the trade balance between India and Bangladesh.

"In view of the above, India is pursuing the option of a gas pipeline from Myanmar through the North-eastern states of India bypassing Bangladesh," Mr Patel said in a written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha.

Recently, state-run GAIL got a feasibility report of the project prepared, he said, adding that discussions with the Myanmar side on the project are continuing.

India wants to import the gas found in offshore a-1 block and potential volumes in block a-3 (ONGC Videsh Ltd and GAIl together hold 30% stake in the two blocks) through an onland pipeline. The route being pursued is along the Kaladan river linking Myanmar with Mizoram.

On Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline, Mr Patel said the second secretary-level trilateral meeting was scheduled to be held from May 22-24 at Islamabad. "Various project related issues including those relating to the project structure, framework agreement and pricing will be discussed ."

The steering committee of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan pipeline has invited India to become a partner in the project.

Source:New Delhi,India

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Dhaka won't allow anyone to explore hydrocarbon within its maritime boundary

From UNB,DHAKA
16/5/2006
link to this article.

Foreign Minister M Morshed Khan said that Bangladesh would not allow anyone to explore hydrocarbons within its maritime boundary and exclusive economic zone.

"If someone-whoever he is and wherever they come from-will not be allowed to do this within Bangladesh's maritime border," he told reporters at Zia International Airport Sunday night on return from D-8 Summit in Bali.

Khan, however, said he would have to consult experts to assess the actual situation about the matter that raised grave concern among the people and media in the country.

Commenting on the D-8 Summit, the Foreign Minister said he went to attend the Summit as a "pessimist" but returned home as "optimist" about the prospect of the economic grouping.

He said the Summit focussed on two agenda - Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) and Customs Cooperation. All trade barriers among the member-states will be withdrawn in next two years and tariffs will be reduced 0-5 per cent in next 4 years, he added.

Bangladesh being lone LDC of the grouping will eliminate the tariff barriers in eight years.

Khan had bilateral meetings with the Indonesian President and the Pakistan Prime Minister as well as with his counterparts of Indonesia, Egypt, Turkey and Pakistan on the sidelines of the Summit.

Asked about his meeting with Pakistan Prime Minister Saukat Aziz Khan, he said all bilateral issues, including FTA, were discussed and they agreed to accelerate the process of the bilateral free-trade agreement.

Foreign secretary Hemayetuddin, Commerce secretary Abdul Karim and other senior officials were present at the airport.

Source:Dhaka,Bangladesh

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Burmese Junta Will Sell Gas to India by passing Bangladesh

Iftekhar Ahmed
From Narinjara News
5/16/2006

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to this article.

Burmese Ambassador to India, U Kyi Thein, while addressing a meeting on Saturday organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), stated that Burma will sell natural gas from its offshore locations to India through a land route by passing Bangladesh.

Mr. Thein also added that his country has enough gas to sell to both China and India.

Negotiations are under way to reach an agreement between Burma and India. In this agreement, gas would go to India via a land route between the Kaladan River and Mizoram.This was confirmed confirmed in his reponse to a question from an official of the ONGC Videsh Limited (OVL) regarding the export of gas to India. Mr.Thein also said that developing a transit trade zone between Burma, India and China is one of the top priorities of the Junta government.

He also invited Indian investors to invest in the proposed new industrial zone in Rangoon. Particularly, the Junta sought investment from Indian companies in the pharmaceutical sector. In addition, the trade of traditional items like teak and timber needs to be discussed.

At the moment Burma is importing fertilizer, cement and machinery from India, and bilateral trade between India and Burma stood at $557.68 million in 2005-2006, 24 per cent higher than the previous year.

Source: The Hindu

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Bangladesh prepares to take up Hydrocarbon exploration issues with Burma and India

Iftekhar Ahmed
From Narinjara News
5/16/2006

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to this article.

Recently published news on invading Bangladesh maritime boundary in the Bay of Bengal by Burmese Junta and India to explore gas and oil has attracted the attention of the government of Bangladesh.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh will be requested by the Energy Division of the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral resources to take up the sea boundary demarcation issue with the governments of Burma and India.

According to the reports of different printing media in Bangladesh including Narinjara News, both Burma and India have invaded 18,000 and 19,000 kilometers of non-demarcated sea area within the boundary of Bangladesh in the Bay of Bengal.

It is reported that both Burma and India have already floated international tenders to conduct seismic survey to explore gas and oil in the invaded territory of Bangladesh.

Demarcation of sea boundary is necessary for successful completion of the third round bidding for exploration and development of hydrocarbon resources in the deep-sea zone, informed by the energy advisor, Mahmudur Rahman said during addressing newsmen.

All possible steps would be taken to open the third round bid documents within the remaining period of the present government, he added.

Recently the cabinet asked the energy division to go for third bidding without opting for the deep-sea seismic survey.

Demarcation of maritime area between Bangladesh and Burma and also between Bangladesh and India is significant to boost regional trade and business and also for development of South Asian region. #

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Explosion kills man in Burma

From Narinjara News
Mon 15 May 2006

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to this article.

An explosion killed a cyclist travelling along the Rangoon-Mandalay highway on May 12, said an official source.

The man identified as Ko Nga Zaw, AKA Nga Pha, was the 22-year old son of U Myint Shwe from Pyidawtha Ward of Tawkywein Village in Kyauktaga Township, Bago Division.

The incident occurred near milepost number 119/5 on the Rangoon-Mandalay highway near Penwagon Village in Kyauktaga, at 12:35 p.m.

The source of the explosion was a green bag, which the victim was carrying on his shoulder while riding his bicycle. The explosion blew off the upper portion of the victim's body according to sources.

The Burmese military is investigating the incident but there have not yet been any detailed reports regarding the explosion.

Ko Nga Zaw was a poor man whose survival depended on the collection of odds and ends.

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Arakan Sea restricted for resource exploration

From Narinjara News
Mon 15 May 2006

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to this article.

The increasing number of resource exploration projects being conducted in the Arakan Sea by the Burmese military junta in cooperation with foreign companies, has led to parts of the sea being restricted to locals, said a fishing boat owner.

Between May 15 and 30, traversing the Arakan Sea was banned for research on "Geodynamics of India Asia Collision", which is being conducted by the Burmese government's Oil and Natural Gas Enterprise in partnership with the oil company Total.

According to a government press release, there will be research conducted on the seabeds of Arakan and Martaban Seas by RV Marion Dufresne. For this research, being conducted in Block 1 of the Arakan Sea, neither large nor small boats will be allowed to enter the Block 1 area, said a government statement.

Although the research may bring in a great deal of revenue to the military junta, the present ban on the use of the waters is having a drastic negative impact on the livelihoods of many Arakanese people who rely solely on the fishing industry for their survival.

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Burma assures India over gas supplies

Syed Ali Mujtaba
From Mizzima News
May 15, 2006

link
to this article.

Burma's ambassador to India, Kyi Thein, assured industrial representatives that Burma had enough gas to sell to both India and China at a conference organised by the Confederation of Indian Industries in New Delhi yesterday.

Burma has held talks with both India and China over possible supplies from the A1 and A3 gas fields in Arakan State but Kyi Thein said no firm deals had been made.

"We are still in the negotiation stage and have not finalised the deal with India and China," Kyi Thein said.

In response to a query from a representative of India's Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Ltd, the ambassador said Burma had enough gas to supply both countries.

"Surely, we will sell gas to India, enough gas is there. We would sell it to both India and China," he said.

Kyi Thein also put speculation over the route of a proposed gas pipeline from Burma to India to rest, confirming the pipeline would bypass Bangladesh and enter India's Mizoram State via the Kaladan River.

The ambassador used the conference to promote plans for increased trade between Burma and India and suggested increasing bilateral meetings between representatives from both countries in a bid to boost figures.

"Bilateral trade stood US $12.4 million in 1980 to '81 rose to $557 million in 2005. We will have to intensify trade to reach the challenging target of $1 billion in 2006," Kyi Thein said.

"Ways and means must be found to extend the border trade, which stood at $14.68 million." Kyaw Thein also told delegates at the conference Burma was planning to set up a new industrial zone in Rangoon that would allow Indian investors to enter into joint ventures or set up industrial outlets.

Source:Mizzima

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Nine arrested in connection with February 1 gas explosion, released

From IMNA News
Sat 13 May 2006

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to this article.

After being severely tortured, nine people, including Village Peace and Development Council (VPDC) members from Kwan-Hlar village, arrested in connection with the gas pipeline explosion on February 1, were released yesterday.

"They all arrived home from the Moulmein," said a Kwan-Hlar villager.

Some people were detained for three months while some were held for two months.

Nai Rae Jae, the VPDC secretary who was severely tortured along with VPDC chairman Nai Kon Sike, including other village leaders all arrived home, according to the villagers.

There are no more villagers in detention, they added.

According to them, village leaders including the VPDC chairman and secretary were arrested because some villagers who wanted to grab the VPDC chairman's post gave false information to the military authorities claiming that the leaders and VPDC members were involved in the explosion.

Given the wrong information, military officers in Southeast Region Command tortured the VPDC chairman and his secretary, Nai Kon Sike and Nai Rae Jae.

They were also accused of having links with Nai Yekha, the Mon cease-fire armed group's senior member who is serving life imprisonment in In-sein prison on charges of trying to assassinate of top military leaders.

According to the villagers, these VPDC members and leaders have no link with the Nai Yekha group and were not involved in the explosion. Although the military junta has accused the Mon and Karen armed groups of causing the explosion these armed groups have denied the charge.

However the military government has not revealed who or which actually caused the explosion. But the regime demanded money from the villagers for the lost gas and the cost of repairs of the pipeline.

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Burma, India intrude into Bangladesh waters for oil-gas exploration

From Kaladan News
Fri 12 May 2006

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to this article.

Chittagong, Bangladesh: India and Burma have intruded into the maritime area of Bangladesh taking advantage of Bangladesh's delay in oil and gas exploration in the deep-sea, officials in Dhaka said.

Both countries have already created a number of blocks and floated international tenders for awarding those to potential oil and gas exploration companies for hydrocarbon exploration.

In the recently invited sixth round bidding India had shown 19,000 sq-kilometres in a triangular shape in the eastern part under its jurisdiction, while Burma had shown 18,000 sq-kilometres in the same shape on its western side drawing a line up to the Andamans, thus squeezing the limit of Bangladesh's territorial waters, sources said.

Besides block 21 in Bangladesh, India has mapped out a line up to Andaman incorporating Bangladeshi territorial waters. The line intrudes deep into Bangladesh sea area, sources said.

Similarly, the sources said, the Burma line enters Bangladesh sea area beside block 18. It has also grabbed a vast offshore area of Bangladesh.

The recent huge success of both India and Burma in offshore exploration has prompted them to be desperate on holding onto the non-delineated areas in deep sea. In an offshore block Burma recently discovered gas reserves of around five to six trillion cubic feet.

India's Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Ltd (ONGC) and GAIL India Ltd hold 30 per cent stake in the gas field, Burma holds 30 percent stake and the remaining 40 per cent is with Korean Daewoo Company.

Bangladesh will initiate a move to go for a third round bidding without conducting a seismic survey to award its deep-sea block to International Oil Companies (IOCs).

The state-owned Petrobangla proposes to create 20 new blocks in the deep-sea for oil and gas exploration, said a Petrobangla official. The Energy and Mineral Resources Division (EMRD) is yet to approve the draft blocks.

The EMRD, however, on May 10, asked Petrobangla to initiate the process of the third round bidding soon. The international maritime boundary between Bangladesh, India and Burma is yet to be drawn up, sources added.

Source:Kaladan,Bangladesh

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Third round bidding for offshore, onshore blocks

From SHAHNAJ BEGUM
11/5/2006
link to this article.

The Petrobangla plans to go for third round bidding for country's offshore and onshore blocks soon.

To streamline the whole process in a proper manner, the energy ministry yesterday asked the Petrobangla to take all necessary measures for signing Production Sharing Contract (PSC) in this regard.

Energy ministry lacks information on the maritime border of Bangladesh with India and Myanmar and how far Bangladesh can conduct seismic survey and explore gas in the Bay, officials at the energy and mineral resources division said yesterday.

According to the sources, at present India is exploring upto a radius of 19,000 square kilometer and Myanmar upto 18,000 square kilometer areas in the Bay.

"These new blocks are as far away as 200 nautical miles into the Bay," Energy and Mineral Resources Adviser Mahmudur Rahman said.

Earlier the government formed a committee for taking preparations for inviting an international tender for conducting seismic survey in the Bay of Bengal as part of its drive for the third round bidding for offshore gas blocks. According to that plan the Petrobangla would invite an international tender for conducting seismic survey over the deep sea based on the terms of reference prepared by the committee and formulate policy for the international tender as well as take steps for re-allocating the existing offshore gas blocks.

After spending about eight months, the committee initiated a policy guideline proposal in this regard but the Cabinet turned it down last month.

The cabinet dropped the proposal pointing out that the guidelines did not specify how the price, at which the selected bidder will sell the data to other interested companies, would be fixed.

If the bidder wants to sell data at too high a price, some oil companies may not be interested and it will hamper gas and oil exploration activities, it said.
It is expected that the guidelines will have a provision which will cover the issue of fixing the highest price for the data, sources said.

However, the energy ministry felt that the committee had recommended the methodology of inviting tenders. "The guideline will act as a legal framework for offshore exploration as this is for the first time that Bangladesh is going for such non-exclusive survey," the source said.

He said the company to be selected for the survey, would have to spend about $30-40 million. It will bear full risk and Petrobangla will not have to take any responsibility for it or invest anything.'

He said data acquisition was required to attract foreign investment for offshore gas exploration. "No one will come with big investment without knowing the presence of hydrocarbon in the Bay," he added.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"New gas blocks in the Bay will be allocated on the basis of the survey. Presence of hydrocarbon including gas would be assessed in the survey," Mahmud said.

He said that the existing seven offshore blocks are within around 90 nautical miles into the Bay from the shore.

"We are hoping to complete the tender procedure and survey by the end of this year," he said.

So far 23 gas blocks with 16 onshore blocks were awarded to different international oil companies in the first round bidding in 1993/1994, while four blocks were awarded in the second round of bidding held in 1997.

Source:Bangladesh

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India, Myanmar 'intrude' Bangladesh maritime area for oil, gas

From BDNEWS, DHAKA
11/5/2006
link to this article.

India and Myanmar have 'intruded' into maritime area of Bangladesh taking the advantage of Bangladesh's delay in oil-gas exploration in the deep-sea, officials in Dhaka said.

They said that India created a number of blocks comprising Andaman Islands and a vast area of Bangladesh's offshore. India also invited 6th round bidding for exploration in the blocks.

On the other hand, Myanmar intruded into the eastern part of Bangladesh's marine area. Myanmar has been taking preparations for oil and gas exploration in the areas by drawing a line up to Andaman.

In this situation, sources concerned said, Bangladesh is going to float 3rd round bidding without conducting any seismic survey.

The Energy Division Wednesday asked Petrobangla, the state-run oil, gas and mineral corporation to take all preparations.

The international maritime border among Bangladesh, India and Myanmar is yet to be drawn up. Works are on in this regard.

"Keeping this in mind, Petrobangla had proposed to create 20 new blocks over 100,000 square kilometre area in the deep-sea for oil and gas exploration," said a Petrobangla official.

The government is yet to approve the draft blocks.

But, the official said, India and Myanmar did not sit idle.

India, beside block 21 of Bangladesh, mapped out a line up to Andaman incorporating the sea areas, originally under Bangladesh. The line intruded deep into Bangladesh sea area, sources said.

Similarly, the sources said, the Myanmar line entered inside Bangladesh sea area beside block 18. It also grabbed a vast offshore area of Bangladesh.

Different sources at Petrobangla admitted the "intrusion", but would not make any comment officially.

"The incident is true," a senior official at Energy Division said.

"However, we are yet to ascertain how much deep into Bangladesh offshore they entered," he said.

Another senior Petrobangla official said: The blocks created by India and Myanmar incorporating our offshore areas are very prospective. Myanmar and India discovered huge gas reserves in the blocks besides the proposed blocks grabbing our sea area.

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Burma's gas to India bypassing Bangladesh

Iftekhar Ahmed
From Narinjara News
5/9/2006

link
to this article.

Recently, India has worked out routes bypassing Bangladesh for importing gas from Burma. India has been competing with China for gas from Burma, so it needs to work out for most economic route, which is actually possible by tri-nation gas pipeline through Bangladesh.

According to the report of the Indian Daily Hindu, India has presented eight alternative routes including one via northeastern part of India that excluded Bangladesh. A high-level Indian delegation recently made presentation before the A-1, A-3 offshore block partners and the Burmese Government in Yangon on as many as eight alternative routes both land and sea routes for importing gas from Burma.

The detailed report submitted at the meeting proposes the pipeline route through the Indian States of Mizoram, Assam, Bihar and West Bengal. The pipeline will also have the provision to transport gas from developing gas fields in Tripura and Assam, sources said.

The detailed feasibility report (DFR) for a Burma-India gas pipeline bypassing Bangladesh and pre-feasibility report of the other proposed alternative routes were done with the help of SUZ Tractable of Brussel (Belgium) as technical consultants.

Bringing gas through Bangladesh had become a thorny issue, which had in fact stalled the whole process and led to Burma favourably considering a request for large gas supplies to China after repeatedly urging India to speed up alternative plans including setting up power projects near the gas fields.

GAIL, which is the preferred buyer of gas from Block A-1, had made presentations of the various options for importing gas from Burma - three land routes and three sea routes options - besides bringing the gas as liquefied natural gas (LNG) and compressed natural gas (CNG). Sources said that out of these eight options two routes are through Bangladesh.

GAIL (India) Ltd and ONGC Videsh Ltd hold 30 per cent share in two exploration blocks - A-1 and A-3 - offshore Burma. Daewoo International Corporation with 60 per cent share is operator of both blocks. South Korea's Korea Gas Corporation holds the remaining 10 per cent share. The issue of pricing of gas would now be discussed and by the last week of June, Burma is expected to get a detailed feasibility report commissioned by it on the routes and other aspects of the deal, sources added.Despite huge protest from Burmese people against gas export, the Military Junta has been continuing its deal with India and China for exporting gas to purchase arms and ammunitions instead to spend money for the development of people.#

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Gas from Burma to India bypassing Bangladesh

Iftekhar Ahmed
From Narinjara News
Tue 9 May 2006

link
to this article.

To skirt the contentious issue of importing gas from Burma through Bangladesh, India has recently worked out routes bypassing its neighbour to transport the gas. India has been competing with China for procuring gas from Burma, so it needs to work out the most economic route, which is possible by way of a tri-nation gas pipeline through Bangladesh.

According to a report in the Indian newspaper Hindu, India has presented eight alternative routes including one via the northeastern part of India that excludes Bangladesh.

A high-level Indian delegation recently made a presentation before the A-1, A-3 offshore block partners and the Burmese government in Rangoon, on as many as eight alternative routes both by land and sea for importing gas from Burma.

The detailed report submitted at the meeting proposes a pipeline route through the Indian states of Mizoram, Assam, Bihar and West Bengal. The pipeline will also have the provision to transport gas from developing gas fields in Tripura and Assam in India, sources said.

The detailed feasibility report (DFR) for a Burma-India gas pipeline bypassing Bangladesh and pre-feasibility report of the other proposed alternative routes were prepared with the help of SUZ Tractable of Brussels (Belgium) as technical consultants.

Transporting gas through Bangladesh to India had become a thorny issue, which had in fact stalled the whole process and led to Burma favourably considering a request for large gas supplies to China after repeatedly urging India to speed up alternative plans including setting up power projects near the gas fields.

GAIL, which is the preferred buyer of gas from Block A-1, had made presentations of the various options for importing gas from Burma - three land routes and three sea routes - besides bringing the gas as liquefied natural gas (LNG) and compressed natural gas (CNG). Sources said that of these eight options two routes are through Bangladesh.

GAIL (India) Ltd and ONGC Videsh Ltd hold 30 per cent share in two-exploration blocks - A-1 and A-3 - offshore Burma. Daewoo International Corporation with 60 per cent share is operator of both blocks. South Korea's Korea Gas Corporation holds the remaining 10 per cent share.

The issue of pricing of the gas would now be discussed and by the last week of June, Burma is expected to get a detailed feasibility report commissioned by it on the routes and other aspects of the deal, sources added.

Despite huge protests from Burmese people against export of gas, the military Junta has been continuing its deal with India and China for exporting gas to purchase arms and ammunitions instead of spending money for development and people's welfare.

Source:Myanmar

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India mulls pipeline bypassing Bangladesh

From NEW DELHI
May 8,2006
link to this article.

NEW DELHI, May 8 (UPI) -- India has presented Myanmar with eight routes for a gas pipeline from that country, including one that bypasses Bangladesh.

A high-level Indian delegation made a presentation before the A-1, A-3 offshore block partners and the government of the former Burma in Yangon on eight land and sea routes for importing gas, the Business Line newspaper reported Sunday. Two of these routes are through Bangladesh. India prefers a route that comes through the northeastern part of its territory.

The plan had originally envisioned a pipeline coming through Bangladesh, but relations between New Delhi and Dhaka or tense and India did not deem Bangladesh's conditions for the pipeline attractive.

India's Gas Authority of India Ltd. and ONGC Videsh Ltd hold 30 percent stake in two exploration blocks -- A-1 and A-3 -- offshore the former Burma. South Korea's Daewoo International Corp. with 60 percent operates both blocks. The Korea Gas Corp. holds the remaining 10 percent.

Sources:India

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Myanmar gas: India works out route bypassing Bangladesh

Richa Mishra
From New Delhi
May 7,2006
link to this article.

India has finally worked out a route bypassing Bangladesh for importing gas from Myanmar.

India, which has been facing competition from China for gas from Myanmar, has presented eight alternative routes including one via North-Eastern part of the country that excluded Bangladesh.

A high-level Indian delegation recently made presentation before the A-1, A-3 offshore block partners and the Myanmar Government in Yangon on as many as eight alternative routes including by land and sea for importing gas. Sources told Business Line that Mr B.S. Negi, Director (Business Development), GAIL (India) Ltd, made a presentation on the route preferring North-Eastern territory. The detailed report submitted at the meeting proposes routing the pipeline through the Indian States of Mizoram, Assam, Bihar and West Bengal. The pipeline will also have the provision to transport gas from developing gas fields in Tripura and Assam, sources said.

Belgian consultants

The detailed feasibility report (DFR) for a Myanmar-India gas pipeline bypassing Bangladesh and pre-feasibility report of the other proposed alternative routes was done with the help of SUZ Tractebel of Brussels (Belgium) as technical consultants.

Bringing gas through Bangladesh had become a thorny issue, which had in fact stalled the whole process and led to Myanmar favourably considering a request for large gas supplies to China after repeatedly urging India to speed up alternative plans including setting up power projects near the gas fields.

At the meeting, GAIL, which is the preferred buyer of gas from Block A-1 had made presentations of the various options for import of gas - three land routes and three sea route options - besides bringing the gas as liquefied natural gas (LNG) and compressed natural gas (CNG). Sources said that out of these eight options two included routes through Bangladesh.

GAIL (India) Ltd and ONGC Videsh Ltd hold 30 per cent stake in two exploration blocks — A-1 and A-3 — offshore Myanmar. Daewoo International Corporation with 60 per cent stake is operator of both blocks. South Korea's Korea Gas Corporation holds the remaining 10 per cent stake.

Asked whether any deliberations took place on the pricing of the gas, sources said, the issue of pricing would now be discussed. By last week of June Myanmar is expected to get a detailed feasibility report commissioned by it on the route and other aspects of the deal, sources added.

Besides its own share of gas from the A-1 block in which so far Myanmar has announced 2.88 to 3.56 trillion cubic feet of in-place gas reserves, India is keen to get additional gas supplies to make the import plans more feasible and help bridge the growing shortfall of the clean energy fuel available in the country.

Sources: India

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Military authorities warns villagers of land mine blasts near gas explosion site

Marn and Loa Htaw
From IMNA News
02 May 2006

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to this article.

Still in mortal fear of another possible explosion in the gas pipeline, people living along it have been warned by the military junta of land mine explosion in Mudon Township, according to despatch from Mon State based IMNA reporter.

The Burmese military government has warned villagers that they have laid mines along the gas pipeline after the explosion near Kwan Hlar village, Mudon township, Mon State on February 1.

The warning was written on the poster, which says, "Be careful of the bombs." The authorities put up the poster in front of the gas pipeline fencing along the main road.

The government has laid the mines along the gas pipeline to protect the pipeline and to scare the people.

Some part of the pipeline is very close to the village and villagers are afraid of both gas and land mine explosions. "The pipeline is very dangerous for us especially for children because they cannot read the warning poster about the bombs" said Nai Tin one of the villagers in Mudon township.

After the explosion military authorities demanded more than Kyat 30 million from the villagers, forced villagers to patrol the gas pipeline and arrested villagers including those from neighbouring villages.

According to villagers, more than 10 Kwan Hlar's village leaders including the secretary Nai Rae Jae were arrested and badly beaten by the military officers at Southeast Region Command's detention centre.

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India to present alternate gas import routes to Myanmar

Lola Nayar (IANS)
From New Delhi
May 2, 2006
link to this article.

With China keen to get gas from Myanmar and Bangladesh not ready to offer transit, India will present as many as eight alternate routes, including by land and sea, for importing gas from that country.

This would be done during a two-day meeting of A-1 offshore block partners that commenced in Yangon on Tuesday. State-owned GAIL (India) Ltd and ONGC Videsh Ltd, the overseas arm of Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), hold 30 per cent stake in two exploration blocks - A-1 and A-3 - offshore Myanmar.

The operator of both the blocks is Daewoo International Corporation with 60 per cent stake while (South) Korea Gas Corporation holds the remaining 10 per cent stake.

"At the operators committee meeting being held in Myanmar, GAIL as the preferred buyer of gas from Block A-1 would be presenting eight options for import of gas including three land routes, three sea route options besides bringing the gas as liquefied natural gas (LNG) and compressed natural gas (CNG)," a petroleum ministry official told IANS.

The official admitted that none of the options being presented to Myanmar include transit through Bangladesh, which had in fact stalled the whole process and led to Myanmar considering a request for large gas supplies to China. Yangon had repeatedly urged India to speed up alternate plans, including setting up power projects near the gas fields.

"GAIL would presenting the detailed feasibility report for a Myanmar-India gas pipeline bypassing Bangladesh and pre-feasibility report of the other alternate plans proposed," the official said.

The detailed feasibility report (DFR) has been done with the help of SUZ Tractebel of Brussels (Belgium) as technical consultants.

The European infrastructure consultants had been briefed to "carry out a study for preparing the detailed feasibility report (DFR), environment management plan (EMP) and rapid risk analysis (RRA) study report for the Myanmar-India pipeline project via the northeast Indian territory".

The detailed report proposes routing the pipeline through the states of Mizoram, Assam, West Bengal and Bihar. The pipeline will also have the provision to transport gas from developing gas fields in Tripura and Assam, the official said.

The various options are expected to firm up commitment from Myanmar to supply gas to India, which has so far not been made, official sources said.

Besides its own share of gas from the A-1 block in which so far Myanmar has announced 2.88 to 3.56 trillion cubic feet of in-place gas reserves, India is keen to get additional gas supplies to make the import plans more feasible and help bridge the growing shortfall of the clean energy fuel available in the country.

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Buddhist Monastery Pressured to Sell after Gas Discovery

From Narinjara News
5/1/2006

link
to this article.

The authority in Mrauk U has requested that the Abbot of Set Tha Wra Village sell the plot of land on which the monastery sits to the state after natural gas was discovered within the compound, said a monk from the monastery.

The village is located in the south of Mrauk U Township, one of the last ancient cities of Arakan. Gas has been oozing from a hole within the monastery compound; villagers have been lighting the gas seepage at the mouth of the hole and using it to boil water, said the monk.

However, the abbot has refused to sell the monastery to authorities as it is of historic importance.Last year, gas was also found within a house compound when villagers began to dig a hole for construction of the home. At that time, the township authority visited the village to study the presence of natural gas in the area.

According to village sources, the abbot and the villagers are now under pressure from the local authority to sell the monastery to authorities for gas exploration. Neither the abbot nor the villagers wish to sell the monastery.

Arakan State is rich in natural resources, including oil, gas, bamboo, teak, fish and marble. Several foreign companies including Daewoo and China National Offshore Oil Corp. have been investing in the natural gas and oil sectors in Arakan State. #

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