Thursday, March 13, 2008

Burma: Burma's oil not enough for Bangladesh's needs

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Bangladesh has failed to fulfill the country's need for gas by importing it from Burma which has rejected a request to sell gas to Bangladesh to help the country meet its growing energy needs, a senior Dhaka official has said.

Burma is according priority to India and China, he added.

The Deputy Energy Minister M. Tamim told the press that the request was made when Bangladesh's foreign secretary visited Burma last month.

"Burma will sell gas to India and China and shall consider selling gas to Bangladesh only after new discoveries are made," he said.

"Burma cannot export gas to Bangladesh at the moment," he added.

"Since 1999, there has been hardly any investment in new gas discoveries as the companies did not see any market for gas here," Tamim said.

Bangladesh has proven recoverable gas reserves of 14 trillion cubic feet according to the latest survey, the deputy minister said. The reserves are expected to last till 2022 if no new discovery is made, he said.

The energy shortage would become acute after 2009 if new gas finds are not made, Tamim added.

"Companies such as Chevron, Total, Cairn Energy and Bangladesh's state-owned Bapex have started exploring for oil in their onshore and offshore blocks," Tamim said.

The port city of Chittagong has the country's largest gas-guzzling industries such as fertiliser and steel and is now running short of gas.

"I've told the Chittagong-based companies not to expect too much regarding acquiring gas," Tamim added.

Bangladesh has a daily demand of 1,800 million cubic feet of gas, but the country's 23 gas fields can provide only 1,700 million cubic feet where the lack of investment in new exploration since late 1990s has outstripped supply.