27 May 2007 - 10:36
  • News Code: 105643

NEW DELHI: After stalling gas exports and stonewalling a billion-dollar transnational energy corridor to India, Dhaka has invited Beijing to develop its oil sector and build roads and pipelines that will allow China to ship out exports and import crude, respectively, through two ports in Bangladesh.

This is the second time China has beaten India in its backyard. As reported first by TOI last month, Myanmar committed all gas to China from two offshore acreages, overlooking the fact that two state-owned Indian firms have 30% stake in the fields and have right to proportionate quantity.


Reports from Dhaka say Bangladesh has sought Chinese investments to develop gas reserves and set up industries for making value-added products, such as petrochemicals, which get higher returns. It has suggested building roads to connect Kunming with Chittagong and Lhasa with Chalna ports, establishing two regional trade routes via Bangladesh.


Another major suggestion, made by the Bangladesh envoy to the Chinese vice-foreign minister recently, is for laying a pipeline for carrying crude imported at Chittagong port to Yunnan through Myanmar. China is already laying a 2,500-km gas pipeline from Myanmar"s Kyakphu in the Bay of Bengal to Rili in Yunan.


Admitting that the proposals are viable but tough, China has told Bangladesh that it expects to come up with tangible results in three years. China and Myanmar have held some discussion on the proposals. Many experts, however, believe that the first steps have already been initiated in this regard with the two countries signing an agreement for establishing a direct link by laying a road between Cox"s Bazar in Bangladesh and Bawlibazar in Myanmar.


The development comes at a time when army-backed interim government in Bangladesh has expressed its desire to forge closer ties with India. On the ground, however, things look quite different. There has been no change in its stand on the issues of exporting gas from its giant Bibiyana fields to India or allowing India to lay a pipeline for bringing gas from Myanmar. Bangladesh"s refusal to allow gas exports led to US major Unocal abandon a multi-billion dollar pipeline project and exit the region.



News Code 105643

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