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Monday, 19 November, 2001, 18:27 GMT
India and Bangladesh discuss gas exports
Workman at gasworks
Gas exports could build up Bangladesh's economy
By Waliur Rahman in Dhaka

Senior energy officials from Bangladesh and India have held important talks in Dhaka on co-operation in the power and energy sector.

Officials say Bangladesh's Energy Minister Mosharraf Hossain and the Indian Petroleum Secretary VN Kaul discussed the question of Bangladesh exporting natural gas to India.

The meeting took place on the sidelines of an energy conference sponsored by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

It was attended by energy officials from Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Bhutan.

This was the first high-level discussion on the energy issue after Bangladesh's new government announced that it was considering the export of gas to India.

Officials say Mr Hossain and Mr Kaul had detailed discussions on energy co-operation.

They say the Indian side showed interest in working with the Bangladeshi gas exploration company Bapex and in increasing the capacity of the country's single oil refinery.

Man in candle-light
India needs to import energy
But the most important issue was the sale of gas by Bangladesh to India.

The Indian official expressed Delhi's readiness to buy gas from Bangladesh.

Mr Hossain later told the BBC that Dhaka will take a decision after assessing Bangladesh's gas reserves and protecting the country's interests.

He said the Indian official agreed with this stand.

Regional co-operation

The two-day conference ended on Monday with all four countries agreeing to strengthen regional co-operation in the energy sector.

They suggested that the hydro-electric potential of Nepal and Bhutan - estimated at over 100,000 Megawatts - be tapped.

The officials agreed that separate groups needed to be established for discussing issues related to laws, technical standards, operational planning and procedures, and commercial principles.

The ADB, on the other hand, said a political umbrella agreement among the four South Asian countries was needed before starting regional projects in the energy sector.

See also:

31 Oct 01 | South Asia
Bangladesh edges toward gas exports
15 Nov 01 | Business
Bangladesh gas row causes strike
20 Mar 00 | South Asia
Gas deals await US firms
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