Myanmar says Daewoo will continue exploration
Daewoo International Corp. has completed its oil and gas exploration in contested waters in the Bay of Bengal and will drill elsewhere, Myanmar state-controlled media said Sunday, disputing Bangladesh's claim that the company backed out after it complained about the activities.
Tension flared between the two countries a week ago when Bangladesh accused Myanmar of sending several ships apparently for prospecting into a contested area believed to contain hydrocarbon reserves.
The dispute surfaced after South Korea's Daewoo, which was awarded exploration rights by Myanmar, started formal explorations in September. Bangladesh protested the move, saying Myanmar was intruding into its waters.
Bangladesh's Foreign Ministry said Friday it had received a letter from Daewoo saying the company had started dismantling its oil and gas equipment.
The Myanmar government, which often makes official announcements in state-controlled media, appeared to issue a rebuttal through the Myanma Ahlin and other newspapers on Sunday.
The reports said Daewoo had "successfully conducted oil and gas exploration" in the disputed area known as block AD-7 and moved its equipment when the work was done. Drilling machinery was shifted on Saturday to another block, called A-3, that is estimated to hold 6 trillion cubic feet (170 billion cubic meters) of gas, the Myanma Ahlin said.
The Myanmar government has given the South Korean company exploration rights for a total of three areas in the Bay of Bengal and the activities will "continue as planned," the newspaper said.
Attempts to contact Daewoo International offices in Seoul and Myanmar were not immediately successful Sunday.
Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury, foreign affairs adviser to Bangladesh's government, said Sunday his government hopes Myanmar will suspend all exploration until the sea border dispute is resolved "peacefully between friendly neighbors."
Bangladesh placed its border guards on alert Saturday because of reports that neighboring Myanmar was amassing troops following the breakdown of talks on the oil and gas exploration dispute, said A.K.M. Nurul Bahar, a top border guard official. He would not give further details.
Bangladesh shares a 170-mile (275-kilometer) land border with Myanmar.
Military-ruled Myanmar has rejected demands by Bangladesh that it halt exploration in disputed areas of the Bay of Bengal as "unlawful and wrong."
The two sides are engaged in long-standing talks to agree on their maritime border, with the next session scheduled for Nov. 16-17 in Dhaka.
Myanmar says Daewoo will continue exploration - International Herald Tribune