Bangladesh invites MNC bids for oil and gas exploration

May 6th, 2008 - 4:44 pm ICT by admin  

Dhaka, May 6 (IANS) Bangladesh hopes to get nine foreign oil and gas multinational corporations, including some global names, to bid for offshore blocks for exploration. Submission of offers for exploration in eight shallow water blocks and 20 deep-sea blocks in the Bay of Bengal is to begin shortly. The bidding is the first of its kind for Bangladesh where the focus is exclusively on the Bay of Bengal. The country hopes to catch up in the race where neighbours India and Myanmar have already gone ahead and found oil and gas.

India has been exploring the Bay in recent years and has discovered 100 trillion cubic feet (tcf) gas and two billion barrels of oil. Myanmar in 2006 discovered seven tcf gas in an offshore area that may be overlapping with its marine boundary with Bangladesh.

State-owned firm Petrobangla has been preparing for this block round from 2006. Each of these blocks has exploration area of between 3,000 and 7,000 sq km.

Petrobangla said it built its expectations on the basis of the sale of its promotional package and data of the offshore blocks worth $1.26 million to 24 companies.

Of them, nine purchased both promotional and data packages and the others purchased only the promotional package. The response received did not however make Petrobangla officials very happy as many of them felt that it could have been better.

US company Chevron, Norwegian Statoilhydro Company, US Conono Phillips, Australian Santos International and Pearl Energy of Singapore purchased the highest volumes of data package.

Other oil firms that appeared to be serious were PTT of Thailand, BP Exploration Operating Co of Britain, Talisman Energy Canada and Total E&P Bangladesh of France, the Daily Star newspaper reported Tuesday.

Since the bidding round was announced in February, 37 companies expressed interest in the bid and purchased the information package.

These include some Bangladeshi entities as well as Chinese, Malaysian, Indian, Japanese, South Korean and Myanmarese ones.

“We will be glad if five or six of them actually drop serious offers,” a Petrobangla official told the newspaper.

Bangladesh began its quest for oil in the mid-1970s, soon after its independence. In subsequent years, it has complained of its neighbours India and Myanmar engaging in exploration without delineating maritime boundaries.

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