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Deep sea oil exploration
Third round bidding likely to attract some Asian nations
Govinda Shil

A good number of Asian countries have shown keen interests in the third round oil and gas exploration bidding that might take place next year, official sources said.
Those countries have been maintaining regular correspondences with Bangladesh's Energy and Mineral Resources Division (EMRD) under the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources and Petrobangla, the state owned oil, gas and mineral corporation.
"The third round bidding might be dominated by China, Japan, Russia, Thailand, Malaysia and India," said Mahmudur Rahman, EMRD Adviser and Board of Investment executive chairman.
The government is likely to initiate process of carrying out deep sea seismic surveys in the Bay of Bengal this winter to confirm hydrocarbon reserve underneath.
"We may have around 40 trillion cubic feet of gas reserve in the deep sea," Mahmud told the FE quoting a United States Geological Survey (USGS) report.
Mahmud said along with European and US companies; companies of those Asian nations will also participate in the bidding, intensifying competition for gas exploration and marketing.
The Energy Adviser is also planning to sit with Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Foreign Affairs to discuss about marking of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the Bangladesh maritime boundary, stressing 200 nautical miles towards the Indian Ocean from shoreline.
The chances of finding hydrocarbon reserves are bright in the Bay as bordering countries, such as Myanmar and Thailand, have gone for exploration in their maritime zones.
The government is also planning to settle a case pending in the High Court that has embargoed production-sharing contract (PSC) with foreign companies.
A top Petrobangla official said the government is serious about the third round bidding as the demand for oil and gas is soaring, because of what he said rapid industrial development in the country.
He said as soon as the seismic survey is completed, Petrobangla will create several blocs in the deep sea and allocate them to foreign companies for exploration.
"We have to fix our EEZ in the Bay before we allocate blocs," Mahmud said. Official projection says the country's existing gas reserves will dry in a decade.