PM Modi, Sheikh Hasina to launch cross-border oil pipeline on Mar 18
India’s first-ever cross-border oil pipeline with Bangladesh is set to be launched on March 18 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina by video conferencing, Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister A K Momen said on Friday.
The 130-km-long Indo-Bangla Friendship Pipeline (IBFPL) pipeline is part of several bilateral measures to allow Bangladesh to tap into larger volumes of energy to meet its growing domestic demands. It would carry high speed diesel from Numaligarh Refinery Limited (NRL) in Assam.
The pipeline would carry fuel from NRL’s marketing terminal in Siliguri, West Bengal to the state-run Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation’s (BPC) oil depot in Parbatipur city in Dinajpur District of the neighbouring country. The custody transfer point would be at the Banglabandha International border point in the suburbs of Siliguri. BPC would have sole marketing rights within Bangladesh.
The ground-breaking ceremony for the IBFPL was held in September 2018 and the project has been closely monitored by the Prime Minister’s Offices of both nations since.
Constructed at a cost of Rs 377.08 crore, the bilateral project has been financed by a grant in aid of Rs 285.24 crore by India and Rs 91.84 crore by NRL. Only five km of the pipeline would run within Indian territory, the rest would run through Bangladesh.
One million metric tonnes per annum (MMTPA) can potentially be transported through the pipeline.
Like all other countries in the subcontinent, refined petroleum accounts for the largest chunk of Bangladesh’s import bill.
As of 2020, Bangladesh was the world’s 42nd largest importer of refined petroleum, importing $2.64 billion of the product, according to the Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC), an international data visualisation site for international trade data created by the Macro Connections group at the MIT Media Lab.
The same year, Singapore, China, India, Malaysia, and Thailand were its largest sources.
Other projects soon
The successful launch of the project is likely to give a fillip to similar bilateral endeavours. India has also been providing grant assistance to Bangladesh for various infrastructure projects, including construction of Akhaura-Agartala rail link, dredging of inland waterways in Bangladesh.
NRL and BPC had, in April 2017, inked a long-term agreement for selling High Speed Diesel (HSD) from India to Bangladesh through the IBFPL. Later, in October that year, the state-run NRL signed another 15-year agreement with the BPC for export of gas oil (diesel) to the neighboring nation.
On the other hand, Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) is in talks with the Roads and Highways Department (RHD) of Bangladesh to facilitate the shipment of petroleum, oil, and lubricants from Assam and Meghalaya to Tripura via Bangladesh. Talks picked up pace last year after floods and landslides devastated the communication links in the Northeastern region.
The distance for transporting different types of fuel from IOC’s Betkuchi depot in Guwahati to Dharmanagar depot in Tripura via Bangladesh will be 376 km, including 137 km inside the neighbouring country, against 579 km through the Meghalaya-Barak Valley route.
In September, 2016, IOC had flagged off seven tankers carrying 84,000 litres of kerosene and diesel from its Guwahati depot to Tripura through Bangladesh for the first time, to avoid the dilapidated national highway in Assam.
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