Unocal Corporation of the United States has shelved its ambitious plans to export Bangladesh gas to India as Dhaka continued to drag its feet on taking a call on selling natural gas to New Delhi through a $1.2 billion pipeline.
Unocal has downsized its India office, removing its long-time champion of Indo-Bangladesh pipeline, Ron Somers.
"After Bolivian President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada was overthrown in October 2003 for exporting country's natural resources, we took a hard look at Bangladesh and if it can take a decision to export gas to India. We felt Dhaka lacks political will," a senior Unocal official in Bangladesh said.
The key factor behind the decision was the belief that a broad political consensus in Bangladesh in favour of gas exports was unlikely in the near future as political parties continue to use the issue to score points in the national obsession of India-bashing.
Unocal had in 2000 submitted a proposal to Petrobangla, the state oil company of Bangladesh, for laying a 30-inch diameter, 1,363-km pipeline, with an initial capacity of 500 million cubic feet of gas per day from its Bibiyana Field in northeast Bangladesh to targeted markets in India.
The decision did not come as a surprise to the consortium of Indian Oil Corporation, GAIL and Oil and Natural Gas Corporation which was to purchase gas at the Bangladesh-India border.
"After the Indo-Korean consortium comprising Daewoo, ONGC Videsh and GAIL found gas in offshore Myanmar, we have been pursuing importing gas from there rather than from Bangladesh," a senior GAIL official said.