Home / Industry / Energy /  LNG pipeline connectivity with Myanmar, Bangladesh on the cards

NEW DELHI : In a bid to counter China’s dominance in the region and ensure energy security, India plans liquefied natural gas (LNG) pipeline connectivity with Myanmar and Bangladesh, said two people aware of the development.

The proposal for a gas pipeline connecting the three countries was initially discussed in 2005-06.

The talks got scuttled after Myanmar decided to go ahead with a pipeline to China.

However, guided by its Act East policy, and the recent volatility in energy markets due to the Ukraine war, India plans to renew the efforts for interconnectivity of the gas grids of the three nations.

“Pipeline connectivity with the eastern neighbours is being looked at as both the countries have large gas reserves and they should be willing to sell their produce," said one of the two officials.

The plans is to connect the pipeline with the North East Natural Gas Pipeline Grid operated by the Indradhanush Gas Grid Limited (IGGL) in Tripura, said the official.

IGGL is a joint venture of Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOCL), ONGC, GAIL, Oil India Ltd (OIL) and NRL.

Estimates show that as of 2021, Myanmar’s reserves of natural gas stood at 22.5 trillion cubic feet.

China and Thailand are among the major importers of LNG from Myanmar. Public sector major ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL) and GAIL also own 17% and 8.5% stakes respectively, in the A1 and A3 blocks in the country.

However, in 2013, China prevailed over the Myanmar government to sell it gas through a bilateral pipeline, after which the plan for a pipeline between India and Myanmar was shelved.

While Bangladesh has seen a decline in its reserves, and has its own high requirements for power generation, the government in Dhaka is making efforts to increase its reserves, taking up more exploration activities across the country. Last year, Bangladesh discovered a new gas field with the capacity to produce 20 million cubic feet of gas per day (MMCFD) at the Koilastila Gas field.

Queries sent to the ministries of petroleum, external affairs, the Bangladesh High Commission in Delhi and the embassy of Myanmar remained unanswered till press time.

Under the Hydrocarbon Vision 2030 for the North-east India, the government also plans to make the North-east a hub of oil and gas transit.

If this pipeline comes up, it would give the plan a boost.

India has been looking at increasing its domestic hydrocarbon production and also expanding its sources of energy imports. India imports around 85% of its total energy requirement.

The Russia-Ukraine war and its impact on the energy market have accelerated India’s efforts to secure more and more sources of LNG and oil supplies. The efforts come in the backdrop of Russian company Gazprom’s former subsidiary, Gazprom Marketing and Trading Singapore (GMTS) defaulting on its long-term contract for the supply of LNG to GAIL since May last year. Attempts to secure more long-term contracts and new suppliers of LNG are being after spot purchases of LNG crossed the $40 per million British thermal units (mBtu) mark in September.

On 26 January, Mint reported that state-run IOCL and GAIL are in talks with the UAE’s Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) for a long-term LNG supply contract.

India is already making efforts to establish cooperation in the region to meet mutual energy requirements and in a way keep a check on China’s dominance. The 130-kilometre India-Bangladesh Friendship Pipeline which would connect Siliguri in West Bengal and Parbatipur in Dinajpur district of Bangladesh and help India export petroleum products to the eastern neighbour is also underway and is expected to be commissioned soon.

Rituraj Baruah
Rituraj Baruah is a senior correspondent at Mint, reporting on housing, urban affairs, small businesses and energy. He has reported on diverse sectors over the last six years including, commodities and stocks market, insolvency and real estate. He has previous stints at Cogencis Information Services, Indo-Asian News Service (IANS) and Inc42.
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