Bangladesh-India standoff over oil exploration in Bay of Bengal

December 26th, 2008 - 12:23 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Dec 26 (IANS) Bangladesh has deployed two war ships in the Bay of Bengal after a standoff with India over hydrocarbon exploration in the waters, according to a media report quoting a navy official.The row began as three survey vessels backed by the Indian Navy started exploration early Thursday, eight nautical miles inside what Dhaka claims is its maritime territory near the Fairway Buoy navigation channel around Block 14 in the southwest of the Bay.

“We could spot the matter when our frigate, Khalid Bin Walid, was patrolling along our maritime border,” the unnamed navy official was quoted as saying by the New Age newspaper.

“We are keeping a watch on the situation and our navy has been put on high alert in our territorial waters. We have strengthened our position in the Bay and registered our protest with the Indian Navy, asking for a pullout of the survey vessels from our waters,” he said.

Navy officials in the port city of Chittagong informed authorities in Dhaka about the development.

Dhaka had a similar standoff with its eastern neighbour Myanmar two months ago when naval ships confronted each other for three days.

Myanmar ended the row after the South Korean survey ship it was using withdrew, not wanting to get involved in a bilateral territorial dispute.

Maritime boundaries of the three littoral neighbours have not been delineated. They acquire importance due to the oil and gas discoveries in the Bay of Bengal’s southern reaches by India. The northern reaches where the disputes occur are known to have significant hydrocarbon reserves.

Dhaka is sandwiched between the two neighbours and resumed talks on maritime boundary after a long time earlier this year. With India, the talks resumed after 28 years.

They remained at a preliminary stage with all sides reiterating their own positions.

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