Tri-nation pipeline envisaged

Tri-nation pipeline envisaged

An ambitious gas pipeline project with Bangladesh and Myanmar has been revived after getting mothballed twice in the last decade.

India, Bangladesh and Myanmar are now reconsidering the pipeline plan connecting the three nations. 

Top officials said initially the pipeline would link Sitwe in Myanmar’s Arakan to Mizoram and Tripura in Northeast India and Chittagong in Bangladesh. The pipeline would extend to West Bengal on the Indian mainland and Assam and other Northeastern states on the eastern side. 

Some 7,000 kms of pipeline would be required for the gas grid which could be used by all the three countries. 

Myanmar and Assam and Tripura in Northeast India would be pumping gas into the grid for sale and supply to mainland India and Bangladesh. 

The pipeline project had figured during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s talks with his Bangladesh counterpart Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina two years back. Officials said GAIL, ONGC and Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation held preliminary talks. 

India had proposed a cross-country gas pipeline in the first half of the last decade to evacuate gas pumped out from offshore fields in Myanmar awarded to Indian companies. The then government in Dhaka under Khaleda Zia had not agreed to the proposal. 

However, with Bangla-desh’s economy growing at a spanking 6 per cent rate, the South Asian nation has turned into an energy-starved country and is now keen to buy energy from its neighbours and a pipeline would obviously help. 

“We are in need of energy resources and would be willing to consider proposals to bring energy to our country,” said Noman Chowdhury, deputy high commissioner of Bangladesh. Bangladesh government sources said the country was keen on buying gas both from Myanmar as well as from Tripura, “if a gas-pipeline is set up.”

In 2010, the pipeline proposal had cropped up once again, but by then Myanmar was disinterested as a rival facility was already carrying gas from Myanmar through the Shan and Chin states into China. The 2,338km Myanmar-Yunan pipeline will supply some 6.5 trillion cubic feet of gas over a 30-year-period to China. 

However new offshore discoveries and Myanmar’s desire to have alternate markets which could balance China have helped to revive plans. Myanmar is estimated to have some 90 cubic feet of gas reserves. 

An Indian delegation had sounded out Myanmar officials during a recent visit to that country. 

Officials said once the pipeline crossed all hurdles and is built, it could link up with existing the Indian gas grid. India is already building a multi-modal transportation system connecting Sitwe with Aizwal in Mizoram. A gas pipeline within Tripura is already being laid out.

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