Myanmar's positive nod
A high-powered Bangladesh delegation has put forward a proposal to Myanmar for importing gas from the Buddhist country for electricity generation here and then exporting the power to Myanmar.
Responding positively to this proposal, Myanmar said it would send a technical team to assess the viability of exporting gas from its Chin State, which is adjacent to Bangladesh.
As per the proposal, the gas would be delivered through a pipeline, crossing through the Naf river, to Chittagong where a power plant would be built. Power generated from the gas supply would be exported again to Myanmar.
If the proposal gets a nod, Bangladesh can earn substantially from the power generation, and also can buy electricity from it, officials said.
The five-member team headed by Prime Minister's Energy Adviser Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury returned to Dhaka last week after a five-day visit to Myanmar. The team had extensive meetings with government leaders, including the Myanmar vice-president, foreign minister, electric power minister and energy minister.
In addition, the Bangladesh side, during the meetings, also made formal proposal to import gas through pipeline, take part in joint investment for power generation, and purchase 500 megawatt of hydropower from Chin or Rakhine provinces through erecting cross-border power transmission grid line.
“For the first time Myanmar was very positive about our proposals,” said a delegation member. “We had tabled some energy import proposals in the past, but Myanmar had always said it would first deal with its ongoing electricity crisis before considering exporting [to Bangladesh].”
Around 33 percent of Myanmar's population has access to power. Bangladesh has twice the electricity coverage. The Myanmar government wants to aggressively increase its power coverage.
“We have also offered joint investment in developing hydropower projects and buy hydropower to Myanmar,” the official added. Myanmar has the potential of 100,000 megawatt hydropower but the country so far identified up to 40,000 megawatt hydropower.
Bangladesh has also proposed a common power grid for both countries to which Myanmar said one such grid was being built under the BIMSTEC initiative.
Diplomatic sources said Myanmar has mapped a 15-year power development plan to meet increasing demand, setting its sights on boosting capacity from 4,581 megawatts to over 29,000MW in 2031.