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BIMSTEC nations plan to enhance energy co-operation

Oct 5, 2005 - The Hindu Business Line

$450-m submarine cable link to connect Madurai and Anuradhapura

New Delhi - THE seven member countries of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multisectoral Technical and Economic Co-operation (BIMSTEC) grouping today agreed to look into the possibility of setting up a trans-regional gas pipeline and a power transmission network, as part of efforts to enhance energy co-operation in the region.

The first meeting of the ministers and officials from BIMSTEC members - India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand - agreed to evolve a common regulatory framework for regional grid interconnections and strengthen co-operation in the hydro and non-conventional sectors.

The members also adopted a Declaration and a Plan of Action for greater energy co-operation in the region, the Power Secretary, Mr R.V. Shahi, told newspersons after the meeting.

According to Mr Shahi, the group has agreed to working on the concept of developing a power exchange and setting up country-to-country grid interconnections to enable flow of electricity across the region.

It has also been agreed to study the possibility of a Trans-BIMSTEC gas pipeline network, he said, adding that separate task forces would be set up to examine the feasibility of setting up a regional grid and pipeline network.

The Task Force on Power Exchange, led by Thailand, would submit its report within a year on the draft MoU for grid interconnections proposed between the member nations.

Another Task Force would look into various options and possibilities of a Trans-BIMSTEC gas pipeline, he said, adding that Thailand would host the first meeting of this task force early next year.

Mr Shahi said that of all the initiatives agreed upon in the Declaration, the BIMSTEC Centre of Energy is most likely to come up first.

The Centre, which would enable sharing experiences in reforms, restructuring, regulation, and best practices in energy sector, could be set up by next year, he said, adding that the location is yet to be identified.

The Ministerial Conference agreed to enhance energy security through optimal development of energy resources such as oil, gas, hydro, coal, biofuel, and non-conventional sources.

It also agreed to share expertise for coal exploration and mining, hydropower, hydrocarbons, and renewables.

The Declaration also stressed on the need for feasibility studies and techno-economic agreements among the countries for optimal utilisation of energy resources, joint research and development activities to develop cost-effective technologies, and harmonising standards and labelling in the BIMSTEC region.

Only 2 energy ministers present

ENERGY Ministers were in short supply at the BIMSTEC Energy Ministers' meeting today, with a majority of the countries, including host nation India, preferring to depute either non-Energy Ministers or officials for the talks.

India was represented by the Water Resources Minister, Mr P.R. Dasmunshi, in the absence of the Power Minister, Mr P.M. Sayeed, who had to rush to South Korea due to certain "unavoidable reasons".

Bangladesh was represented by its Secretary for Energy and Mineral Resources, while Sri Lanka chose to depute its High Commissioner-designate to India for the meet.

Nepal had its Assistant Minister for Water Resources attending the talks while Bhutan sent its Minister for Trade and Industry.

Only Thailand and Myanmar had their Energy Ministers attending the day's deliberations.