No extra blocks to exploration companies in the Bay: Hasina

During Wednesday’s meeting at her office, Hasina also directed the floating of fresh tenders for this.

“The meeting discussed ways to harness the mineral resources in the Bay and using them for the people of Bangladesh,” prime minister’s Press Secretary KM Shameem Chowdhury told reporters.

In September 2012, state-run Petrobangla floated tenders for 12 shallow and deep sea blocks — excluding the then disputed maritime area with India — in the Bay to explore oil and gas.

Despite inviting tender bids twice for shallow blocks SS-02 to SS-4, and SS-06 to SS-11, only three companies responded.

In February and March this year, Petrobangla signed deals with India’s ONGC and the Australia-Singapore joint venture, Santos-Kris Energy, to explore hydrocarbon in the three blocks.

However, the bidding process was halted for deep-sea blocks DS-12, DS-16 and DS-21 blocks in February last year, as no multinational company had responded.

The PSC was later revised to relax rules in compliance with the contractors’ demands.

At present, the government is evaluating biddings for these blocks. US company ConocoPhillips is the sole bidder.

In 2011, Bangladesh signed deals with the company to explore and extract oil and gas in blocks DS-10 and DS-11.

Currently, two foreign companies – Chevron and Tullow – are producing 54 percent of total gas supplies from four fields.

The prime minister’s press secretary said Hasina had suggested new biddings to explore and extract oil and gas in Bangladesh’s maritime boundary.

“The prime minister has said, ‘a company will not be given more than one block’,” he said.

Bangladesh has settled its maritime boundary disputes with Myanmar and India.

Researchers believe this opens up a great opportunity to explore resources in the Bay.

Hasina has ordered research and surveys to ascertain the nature and extent of the unexplored resources and said the government plans to strengthen the Navy to protect them.

She emphasised having Bangladesh’s own satellite to conduct surveys, research and extract resources in the Bay.

The press secretary said the prime minister had suggested surveys in the in shallow and deep sea.

She also emphasised protecting the environment and wildlife in the Bay, Chowdhury said.

The ministers of finance, shipping, industries, water resources, environment, land, planning, civil aviation, and foreign affairs, and the navy chief, among others, were present at the meeting.

Source: Bd news24

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