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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2399

Bangladeshi oil and gas blocks grabbed by India

Dhaka, 13 May, ( Bangladesh missions in different countries miserably failed to keep the government informed about India's bidding for offshore oil-gas blocks that are originally within the maritime borders of Bangladesh.

"For the bidding, Directorate General of Hydrocarbons under Indian Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas held projection meetings not only in Delhi, but also in a number of countries. None of our missions could notice those," said a concerned source.

India started "Roadshow" for is sixth round of New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP-VI) offering 55 blocks - 25 onshore, 6 shallow water and 24 deepwater - through meetings at Ashok Hotel in New Delhi on March 10. The program was followed by similar "Roadshows" at Hilton Paddington in London, UK, on March 27-28, Hilton Post Oak in Houston, USA on March 30 and Hayatt Regency in Perth, Australia on April 6-7.

Similar "Roadshows", followed by one-to-one interactive sessions, also took place at Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on April 10-11 and Shangri-La Hotel in Dubai, UAE on April 23-24.

Two more "Roadshows" of Indian Directorate General of Hydrocarbons will be held-at Delta Bow Valley Hotel in Calgary, Canada on June 14-15 and JW Marriot Hotel in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on June 19-20.

Also, an "Interactive Meet" is scheduled on May 22 at Windsor Hall, Hotel Le-Meridian, New Delhi.

"In one hand neither the Petrobangla nor the Energy Ministry could alert the Foreign Ministry about the projection meetings, on the other hand, Bangladesh missions in the countries where the Roadshows took place could not inform the country about the Indian move," said the source.

According to the NELP-VI bid offer, the Indian blocks D-22 with 7,790 square kilometres area and D-23 showing 8,706 square kilometers grabbed eight Bangladeshi deepwater blocks totally or partially.

In the bidding documents, Bangladesh's blocks 24, 29 and 34 entirely have been shown under Indian blocks that also grabbed most parts of Bangladeshi blocks 30 and 39, more or less 50 percent of 25 and 35 and partially 40.

Sources said that Petrobangla, the state-run oil, gas and Mineral Corporation finalized the blocks in July 2005 for 3rd round bidding and sent it to the Foreign Ministry whether it has any opinion as international maritime boundary is looked after by the ministry.

"But, the Foreign Ministry is yet to get time to review the proposal and give its opinion," said a senior official at the Petrobangla.

An official at Energy Division said a proposal was sent to the Cabinet for approval of the policy for conducting non-speculative seismic survey for the deepwater blocks. "The Cabinet formed a technical committee and an amended policy was placed in the Cabinet again. But it is yet to be discussed," he said.

"Bangladesh started preparations for the 3rd round bidding in 2004. Unfortunately, we couldn't progress, but India grabbed our blocks through the NELP-VI," the official said.

The NELP-VI was launched on February 24 this year. The bid closing date is September 15. The blocks will be awarded within four months of closing of the bids.

Not only India, also Myanmar marked its exploration area grabbing seven Bangladeshi deepwater blocks totally or partially.

According to sources at Petrobangla, Myanmar showed three Bangladesh blocks -- 33, 38 and 43 -entirely under its exploration area while half of blocks 28 and 37. Myanmar also grabbed most part of Bangladesh block 42 and partially blocks 32.

- INS+Asian Tribune -

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