Bangladesh proposes energy swap with Myanmar

The government is exploring the option to import gas from Myanmar and export electricity to that country under an energy-swap proposal already on the toss.

Officials said the Government of Myanmar, in principle, has agreed to a proposal put forward by a high-powered Bangladesh delegation to this effect.

Prime Minister’s Energy Advisor Dr Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury visited Myanmar between February 1 and 3 as the head of a six-member delegation and placed the Bangladesh proposal.

Officials said though Bangladesh had long been trying to have an energy deal with the neighbouring country, this time it has proposed an energy swap deal that ensures a win-win situation for both sides.

According to the proposal, Bangladesh wants to import gas from Myanmar to meet the country’s demand in the power sector as the government has already taken steps to set up a number of high-capacity power plants, including the seaside Matarbari Hydropower Plant in the Chittagong region.

In return, Bangladesh has offered that the electricity to be produced from the plants would be exported to the Myanmar state of Chin, close to Bangladesh border, to meet power shortages in the western zone.

A Power Division official said they had already started the process of inviting a Myanmar technical group, as hinted during the trip, to look into the opportunity of energy cooperation between the two neighbours.

He said the Myanmar government wants to send a technical committee comprising members from the energy-related ministries and agencies to explore the Bangladesh idea.

“For the first time, the Myanmar government agreed to work on finding the opportunity of energy cooperation with Bangladesh. So we want to respond to the Myanmar government’s move without delay,” said a member of the delegation, preferring not to be named.

He said during the visit, Bangladesh proposed to form a joint working committee to work on the areas but the Myanmar government agreed to send a technical committee first.

Comprising high officials of the Foreign Ministry, Power Division, Power Development Board and Petrobangla, the Bangladesh delegation had met with the Vice President, power and energy ministers and the foreign minister and mooted the new energy-cooperation proposal. The Bangladesh Ambassador to Myanmar was also among the delegation members.

Another delegation member said Bangladesh had invited Myanmar to have energy cooperation since 2006 and even it wanted its inclusion in the grid connection proposed among the BIMSTEC-member countries.

But, for not getting any response from that country, Bangladesh has mooted a new proposal considering the country’s need.

“The Myanmar government has so far argued that the country has to meet its electricity crisis first and then to export. So we could convince the government when proposal was given to export hydropower to that country,” the official told the FE.

Source: The Financial Express

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