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No more rigs in our waters: Dhaka to Daewoo

The foreign ministry will request South Korea’s Daewoo not to set up any further rigs in the Bay of Bengal waters claimed by Bangladesh, after the industrial giant said it would relocate to “other blocks”.

Daewoo has assured Dhaka that the rig used in the recent oil and gas exploration activities in disputed Bay waters would be shifted to other Myanmar blocks, foreign secretary Md Touhid Hossain said at a press conference Sunday.

“Myanmar authorities would not have removed the rig had there no prompt diplomatic response from Dhaka,” Touhid added.

“Daewoo has told us it would relocate the rig, removed from the disputed waters, to other blocks,” Touhid told journalists at a press conference Sunday at foreign ministry.

“We will send Daewoo a letter along with charts of our sea boundary asking them not to carry out oil and gas exploration inside the line,” he said.

The secretary also said Bangladesh would be able to demarcate its continental shelf by 2009, two years before the UN deadline.

Myanmar last week started oil and gas exploration in an area which Bangladesh claimed according to its sea boundary act 1974.

But Myanmar rejecting the act, has made counter-claim over the same waters.

Foreign ministry sources said Myanmar’s ruling junta awarded Daewoo the contract secretly in 2005. There was no open bidding for the contract, they said.

“Daewoo says it did not know that the site was in the disputed waters. The company first came to know about it when Bangladesh protested the exploration,” an official told bdnews24.com.

He said according to international practices, international companies do not go for exploration works in disputed waters.

Touhid Hossain said he met Myanmar’s deputy minister Maung Myit, the key man in charge of sea boundary delimitation, during the secretary’s recent diplomatic mission to yangon.

“He denied that they were exploring for oil and gas in the disputed waters. Myanmar also refused to remove the rig from the waters at the time,” he said

Nevertheless, Daewoo removed the rig from the site around midday Sunday, said Touhid.

“Of course Myanmar did not wish to remove the rig, but our quick diplomatic initiative might have caused the withdrawal,” the secretary added.

The foreign ministry earlier sent letters to Chinese and South Korean ambassadors to Dhaka informing them of Myanmar’s exploration in the disputed waters in the Bay of Bengal.

Touhid Hossain ruled out media reports that Myanmar had withdrawn as they had already completed their exploration work.

“Myanmar’s support vessels started moving into the disputed water in September.

“According to the experts, Daewoo would have been there for two to three more months to complete their oil and gas exploration activities,” the secretary said.

The secretary said Bangladesh and Myanmar had talks on sea boundary demarcation as per the UN convention on laws of the seas (UNCLOS) which came into being in 1982.

“Our 1974 act is inconsistent with UNCLOS in some cases,” he added.

November 9, 2008 - Posted by | News, Politics | , , , ,

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