India plans to construct a liquefied natural gas (LNG) pipeline connecting the country to Myanmar and Bangladesh to secure its energy source and counter China's growing dominance in the region, two people privy to the developments revealed, according to a Daily Observer report.
This idea was first discussed back in 2005-06 but was shelved after Myanmar opted for a pipeline to China instead. However, with India's Act East policy and recent instability in energy markets due to the Ukraine war, the country is looking to revive the plan for interconnecting the gas grids of the three nations.
"Pipeline connectivity with the eastern neighbours is being looked at as both the countries have large gas reserves, and they should be willing to sell their produce," one of the two officials told the Mint in end-January.
The proposed pipeline will be connected to the North East Natural Gas Pipeline Grid run by Indradhanush Gas Grid Limited (IGGL) in Tripura—a joint venture between Indian Oil Corporation Ltd, ONGC, GAIL, Oil India Ltd, and NRL.
Myanmar's natural gas reserves are estimated to be 22.5 trillion cubic feet as of 2021, with China and Thailand among its major importers of LNG. Public sector companies ONGC Videsh Ltd and GAIL also own 17% and 8.5% stakes in Myanmar's A1 and A3 blocks, respectively.
In 2013, China successfully secured a bilateral pipeline deal with the Myanmar government, which led to shelving of the India-Myanmar pipeline plan. On the other hand, Bangladesh has seen a decline in its natural gas reserves and has a high requirement for power generation.
Dhaka is working to increase its reserves by exploring more exploration activities across the country and recently discovered 20 million cubic feet of gas per day at the Koilastila Gas field, which could significantly boost the country's reserves.
The proposed pipelines will boost the Indian government's plans to make the North-east region a hub for oil and gas transit under its Hydrocarbon Vision 2030, as New Delhi looks to increase domestic hydrocarbon production while also expanding its sources of energy imports as it currently imports around 85% of its total energy requirement.
Meanwhile, no formal responses had been received from the Ministry of Petroleum, the Ministry of External Affairs, the Bangladesh High Commission in Delhi, and the Embassy of Myanmar regarding this matter at the time of reporting.