Friday, March 23, 2012

Bangladesh to add offshore gas blocks after dispute with Burma ends

Bangladesh wants to add two new offshore oil and gas exploration blocks to the country's map in the eastern Bay of Bengal.

The dispute resolution under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) on March 14 may also clear Myanmar's claims over six existing blocks.

A top official on Thursday said Bangladesh eyes fresh mapping of offshore gas blocks as dispute ends with Burma, also known as Myanmar soon after the copy of judgment.

The tribunal based in Hamburg, Germany, upheld Bangladesh's claim to an exclusive economic zone of 200 nautical miles in the Bay of Bengal, and to a substantial share of the outer continental shelf beyond, thus ending its maritime boundary dispute with Myanmar.

Bangladesh will come out with fresh demarcation of its offshore gas blocks in the Bay of Bengal, state-owned Petrobangla's Chairman Hussain Monsur said Thursday. 

The government asked Petrobangla to prepare a new map with the gas blocks properly demarcated in keeping with the international ruling, Monsur said.

Days after the victory at a U.N. court in Bangladesh's maritime boundary claims the Bangladesh Navy has made its first patrol across the settled boundary in the Bay of Bengal.

In 2008, Bangladesh floated its offshore block bidding for oil and gas exploration and  a U.S. company ConocoPhillips signed a Production Sharing Contract (PSC) for two blocks -- DS 10 and 11. Of these, a part of block 10 is claimed by India and a part of block 11 by Myanmar.

Bangladesh was unable to ink a PSC with U.K's Tullow for shallow water gas block SS-08-05 because of the dispute with India. Tullow secured the block in a competitive bidding round for offshore blocks in February 2008.

Bangladesh's winning its maritime boundary claim over Burma implies that the country will now have a larger deep sea oil and gas exploration area in the eastern Bay of Bengal.

Saleem Samad, an Ashoka Fellow in journalism, is a Bangladesh based award winning investigative reporter. He specializes on Islamic militancy, forced migration, good governance, press freedom and elective democracy. He was detained, tortured in 2002 and later expelled from Bangladesh in 2004, for whistle-blowing of the arrival of Jihadists with links to international terror network fled during Anglo-US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. Ending his life in exile in Canada he has recently returned home after six years. His email: