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Despite feeler, Myanmar gas goes to China
[January 10, 2006]

Despite feeler, Myanmar gas goes to China


(Indian Express Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)As Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar left for China today to push for co-operation in bidding for oil and gas assets abroad, came a reality check from next door: Myanmar has declined gas supply to India-crucial for the Myanmar-Bangladesh-India pipeline-and, instead, tied up with a Chinese firm. This, when more than a month ago, on December 7, Myanmar had sent a feeler to New Delhi. That day, its Energy Ministry signed an MoU with PetroChina for sale 6.5 trillion cubic feet of gas from its AI Block for 30 years but Minister Lun Thi had told New Delhi that he was awaiting an Aiyar visit to Yangon in the first week of January. This message was sent via Mak Patel, a Yangon-based consultant for ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL). In A1 Block, OVL and GAIL (India) Ltd are in a joint venture with block operator Daewoo and Korea Gas for exploration and production of gas. The Indian combine has 30 per cent, Daewoo 60 per cent and Korea Gas the remaining 10 per cent. But despite Myanmar's feeler on an Aiyar visit, the Petroleum Ministry sent Joint Secretary Ajay Tyagi to Yangon on Sunday. He returned this evening with the news of the China tie-up. While Aiyar was en route to China, his officials were not available to comments. The gas supply from A-1 is important to India since Aiyar had planned to build a 290-km pipeline from Myanmar's west coast through Bangladesh to bring the gas to India's east coast. This Myanmar-Bangladesh-India pipeline was also expected to pool isolated gas in the northeast. Decision to back track `quite deliberate' New Delhi: India today said it had no regrets of giving away to arch rival China a Nigerian oil field which its flagship ONGC Videsh Ltd had won defeating Chinese firm Cnooc, saying the asset was too risky. The Cabinet had last month stopped OVL, the overseas arm of state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC), from acquiring 45 per cent stake in Nigeria's OML 130 oil area, also known as the Akpo field, which would have given the energy-hungry nation 3.5 million tonnes of crude oil annually for 20 years. Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar said the decision to back-off the deal at the last minute was taken "Quite deliberately. There are absolutely no regrets". PTI



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