Dhaka invites firms to explore gas

December 10, 2012 - 12:19:58 am

DHAKA: Bangladesh yesterday invited bids from international companies to explore offshore oil and gas reserves, an official said, as the fast-growing economy seeks to meet its soaring energy demands.

State energy group Petrobangla Director Muhammad Imaduddin said that nine shallow-water and three deep-water blocks in the Bay of Bengal were open for production-sharing contracts with companies.

“We are going to post details of the international tenders on our website by tomorrow (Monday),” Imaduddin said adding that the blocks would be awarded to eligible firms by the end of next June, with submission deadline in mid-March.

The Offshore Bidding Round 2012 will be the sixth in the history of impoverished Bangladesh, which has extensive gas reserves, but is facing a shortfall due to soaring consumption.

Authorities offered the blocks after a UN tribunal in March this year ended a long-standing territorial dispute between Bangladesh and Myanmar in the gas-rich Bay of Bengal.

In 2009, Dhaka’s bidding for offshore energy search got a tepid response as only US giant ConocoPhillips signed deals for two blocks of the 28 blocks on offer which included some to which Myanmar and India had territorial claims.

“This time we are optimistic about attracting more companies in the bidding. All 12 blocks are in the undisputed Bangladeshi waters,” Imaduddin said. Bangladesh hopes to resolve maritime border dispute with India in 2014.

Bangladesh is urgently trying to locate new sources of energy as the government has said the nation’s current gas reserves, at 16.3 trillion cubic feet, may run out within a decade at present consumption rates.

The country’s economy has been growing at more than six percent annually over the last decade with industrial growth hovering around 10 percent in several years.