At a time when China is opposing India's oil and gas exploration plans with Vietnam in the South China sea, Bangladesh is making friendly overtures to strengthen its energy ties with India.In a recent letter to the ministry of external affairs (MEA), Dhaka has assured New Delhi that "pending the outcome of the arbitration that is proceeding pursuant to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, Bangladesh - reserving its rights - has decided not to issue concessions (oil and gas acreages) in regard to maritime areas claimed by both Bangladesh and India."
New Delhi has recently objected to the oil and gas activities being carried out by US energy major ConocoPhillips in the two deep-sea blocks awarded to it by the government of Bangladesh in the Bay of Bengal.
However, on its part, Bangladesh has assured that the contract of its state-owned oil and gas company, PetroBangla, with ConocoPhillips does not offer any "right to exploration in India nor do the blocks include areas that are claimed by India."
"India is keen to have a bilateral hydrocarbons relationship with Bangladesh but is prepared to wait till Dhaka comes on board," a senior government official said.
The letter of Bangladesh's ministry of foreign affairs (a copy of which is with the HT) also states that "on the basis of reciprocity", Dhaka is also ready to share with New Delhi the geographic coordinates and maps of the deep-sea blocks offered by it in the disputed sea waters.
In response to New Delhi's request to share data of blocks offered by Dhaka, the latter has sought coordinates of Blocks D-22 and D-23 on the Indian side.
"We have asked the petroleum ministry to send details of the blocks (maps and coordinates) mentioned by the Bangladesh side," a senior MEA official told Hindustan Times.
(with inputs from Shishir Gupta)