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Bangladesh’s claim to Myanmar gas rejected

* Dhaka moved INTLOS on gas field location

Written by Amitav Ranjan | New Delhi |
April 26, 2012 12:23:15 am

India has escaped a standoff — a repeat of the South China Sea squabble — with neighbouring Bangladesh following a ruling by International Tribunal for Law of the Sea (ITLOS) that India’s natural gas assets in Myanmar were outside Dhaka’s maritime limits.

Clarifying the ITLOS ruling on water boundary between Myanmar and Bangladesh,the Research & Analysis Wing (RAW) has informed that blocks A1 and A3 would “remain within Myanmar side”. The blocks collectively hold about 6 trillion cubic feet of discovered gas and state-run Indian firms hold 25.5 per cent equity in each.

Bangladesh had contested the coordinates of A1 and other blocks,and floated in February 2008 an exploration tender that included a portion of A1. It had included Myanmar’s blocks AD7 to AD10 and portions of AD1 to AD6,and handed a contract for their seismic survey to China National Petroleum Corp.

The claims resulted in strained relations between the two countries with a standoff in October 2008 when survey ships of A1 and A3 operator Daewoo International were forced to withdraw from close to St Martin’s Island after Dhaka dispatched its naval forces.

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The oil and gas fields map prepared by Myanmar following ITLOS’ March 14 verdict shows that almost all of its offshore blocks had been excluded from Bangladesh.

“As such,the ITLOS’ verdict would have little impact on Myanmar’s offshore energy resources,” said the RAW report.

Gas reserves in A1’s Shwe and Shwe Phyu fields are estimated at 3.83 trillion cubic feet while that in A3’s Mya field is 1.52 TCF. Both blocks are under development and gas production of 200 million standard cubic metres per day is expected to commence from May 2013.

ONGC Videsh Ltd holds 17 per cent equity and GAIL India Ltd 8.5 per cent in each of A1 and A3 blocks.

Dhaka moved ITLOS with the provisions of UN Convention on the Law of the Sea for international arbitration after Myanmar claimed 17 and India 10 out of the 28 blocks that Bangladesh had announced for exploration.

It dragged both neighbours to different international tribunals in 2009,seeking delimitation of its maritime boundaries through and beyond the continental shelf extending 200 nautical miles into the gas and mineral rich Bay of Bengal.

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