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Myanmar worked in that area from before?

With Korean, Chinese and Indian companies in the field, Myanmar’s attempt to drill an exploratory oil and gas well within Bangladesh maritime boundary indicates that the country has been working on this plan for a long time.

The presence of drilling rig in the oil-gas exploration ship of Korean company Daewoo working for Myanmar in the disputed area is a proof that Myanmar might have physically worked in the area without drawing the notice of Bangladesh in the recent past.

To mobilise a rig is very costly and an oil company would do so only when it has previously done seismic survey and found strong chances of hitting oil and gas, geologists say.

This spot is located 55km southwest at 227 degrees from St Martin’s Island while 180 degrees from St Martins marks a southward straight line, which should be Bangladesh’s maritime boundary. The location is marked as deep-sea oil and gas exploration blocks 8-13 of Bangladesh.

But Myanmar claims the area to be part of its economic zone and marked the area as some of its own oil and gas exploration blocks.

In August last year, Daewoo declared that it discovered 7.7 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of gas in three offshore blocks close to Bangladesh, says AP.

According to Xinhua, Myanmar’s autocratic military regime highly depends on oil and gas exports to Thailand and China to earn foreign currency. Gas export in 2006-07 fetched Myanmar over $1 billion.

Almost all the offshore gas discoveries are close to Bangladesh maritime territory. With three main large offshore oil and gas fields and 19 onshore ones, Myanmar has proven recoverable reserve of 18.012 TCF out of probable reserve of 89.722 TCF offshore and onshore gas. The country is also estimated to have 3.2 billion barrels of recoverable crude oil reserve, according to official statistics.

Myanmar’s latest oil and gas explorations are being conducted by China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) of China, Daewoo and South Korea Gas Corporation, ONGC Videsh Ltd, Gas Authority of India Ltd (GAIL) and Essar of India under various Production Sharing Contracts (PSC). In the past, US company Unocal (now Chevron) discovered and developed a number of oil and gas fields.

CNPC signed the PSC with the Myanmar Ministry of Energy in January 2007 covering crude oil and natural gas exploration projects in three deep-sea blocks off western Myanmar, which is close to Bangladesh maritime border.

A consortium of Korean and Indian companies led by Daewoo owns stakes in blocks that include the Shwe, Shwephyu and Mya fields off western Myanmar, also close to Bangladesh territory. Daewoo has 60 percent stakes in the consortium, South Korea Gas Corporation has 10 percent, ONGC 20 percent and GAIL 10 percent.

The Shwe field holds a gas reserve of 4-6 TCF while Shwephyu 5 TCF and Mya 2 TCF with a combined reserve of 5.7-10 TCF estimated by experts.

In May this year, Daewoo and CNPC signed a deal for join exploration in Myanmar.

Statistics reveals that foreign investment in Myanmar’s oil and gas sector has reached $2.635 billion as of March since the country allowed foreign investment in late 1988.

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November 9, 2008 Posted by | News, Politics | , , , | Leave a comment

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 | , , , , | Leave a comment