After signing a multi-billion dollar deal with Pakistan, Iran is planning to take Bangladesh on board its proposed gas pipeline project, and sources say Dhaka has shown keen interest in the proposal.
In a letter written to the Finance Ministry’s Economic Relations Division (ERD), the Iranian envoy in Dhaka has extended his country’s helping hand and said Bangladesh could “join the IPI pipeline project” to augment its energy requirements.
A top ERD official said on condition of anonymity that the letter had been forwarded to the energy division. “The division will now chart its own course,” the official was quoted as telling a Bangla newspaper. The Iranian envoy has reportedly said in his letter that since the pipeline would stretch as far as the eastern Indian city of Kolkata, Bangladesh could be easily linked to the grid.
The ‘Peace Pipeline’, as it is being formally called, will traverse over 1 724 miles (2,775 km) from Iran’s South Pars gas fields to the Pakistani city of Khuzdar. From the Pakistani border area, one branch will go to Karachi, while the other will reach India via Multan
Iran has vast untapped oil and gas resources with experts estimating the natural gas reserves at around 1,045 trillion cubic feet, which is second only to Russia.
A top Bangladesh government official said Iran had assured that if Dhaka gave its approval to the project, the pipeline would be extended till Kolkata. “It is really a great opportunity for Bangladesh as the country’s recoverable gas reserve would start drying up from 2013,” the official said.
Nearly 87 per cent of the country’s electricity needs are met by natural gas generation, and Bangladesh’s national oil company, Petrobangla, has said resources could dry up by 2015.
“Kolkata is very close to Bangladesh. It will be easier for the government to bring the pipeline to our border,” the official said