Bangladesh is reportedly holding talks with the Burmese regime to secure gas after a official from Dhaka described his country’s reserves as “limited”.
“New scientific calculations have shown that there is limited gas reserve,” said the deputy High Commissioner to India, Mustafizur Rahman. “We are planning to import gas from Malaysia and Indonesia,” adding that Bangladesh was also “in talks with the Myanmarese [Burmese] government for importing gas”.
If a deal is done it will be a major boost to bilateral relations between the two countries, which had in the past soured after Bangladesh alleged Burma was encroaching on its maritime territory. This lead to a naval stand-off in 2009.
In 2008, the energy advisor to the then-Bangladeshi military government, Dr. M Tamim, said that “Lun Thi [Burma’s energy minister] informed us that Myanmar does not have enough gas now for supply to Bangladesh as it has made agreements with China and Thailand for gas supply from the exiting reserve.”
Both the interim military government in Bangladesh and the current government of Sheik Hasina has sought to build ties with its eastern neighbour, but the energy-starved nation will be sorely disappointed that its search for gas in the Bay of Bengal has not been more fruitful.
Bangladesh has also been looking into the possibility of importing hydro-electric power from Burma, mirroring Chinese projects in the country that have similarly looked to exploit the potential of Burma’s rivers.
The warming of relations between Bangladesh and Burma was evidenced by the recent commencement of work on a rail link connecting the two countries, with the opening ceremony attended by Prime Minister Hasina.
Bangladesh meanwhile has also looked into importing hydro-electricity from Bhutan through India to meet its energy shortfall, with electricity supply some 1800 megawatts short of demand.