MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Bangladesh: democracy in - means UK company out!

Published by MAC on 2009-01-13

The return of a democratically elected government to Bangladesh has brought renewed calls for a withdrawal of all energy-related contracts previously signed without the consent of the people.

Prime among these contracts is that for the huge Phulbari coal project, signed between a former government and UK-listed GCM Resources, through its Bangladeshi subsidiary, Aisa Energy.

Call to banish Asia Energy

11th January 2009

Dhaka - A citizens' group has demanded Asia Energy be banished from Bangladesh, open-pit coalmine banned and seven-point deal with Fulbari dwellers honoured.

"In the wake of public protests, the then government reached an accord with the inhabitants of Fulbari, and the present prime minister Sheikh Hasina backed that deal and demanded its immediate implementation," Prof. Anu Muhammad said on Sunday in a written statement at a briefing at National Press Club.

"That deal has yet to be implemented," said Anu, member secretary of the national committee to protect oil, gas, mineral resources, power, ports.

"The already-discovered Jalalabad gas field has been given away to US oil company Chevron illogically," the statement said.

The committee demanded that all past ministers, bureaucrats, consultants and businessmen-agents who were involved in plundering national resources be given exemplary punishment.

"We want this government not to patronise or protect multinational plunderers, lobbyists of these companies and their commission agents,"
the statement said.

Govt urged to scrap model PSC on offshore blocks

New Age

12th January 2009

The Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Port on Sunday demanded scraping of the model production sharing contract on offshore blocks and procedure to award nine blocks to two foreign oil companies.
It also demanded that the new government should ensure people's right to country's natural resources, ban export of gas and coal and made public all the energy- related deals.

'The interim government prepared the model PSC against the interest of the country and held bidding for 28 offshore blocks, said Professor Anu Muhammad, member secretary of the committee, at a news conference at the National Press Club.

'But in the face of resistance of the people, the interim administration could not implement its 'evil' design to hand over country's natural resources to foreign companies,' he noted.

He said the model PSC, based on which two foreign companies were selected for awarding nine blocks, had a provision that up to 80 per cent gas could be exported in the form of liquefied natural gas.

Professor Anu also demanded that the new government should oust the Asia Energy from the country and ban open-pit mining method for coal extraction to fulfil a seven-point agreement that the previous government signed with the protesters at Phulbari in Dinajpur in 2006.

He also called on the government to ensure cent per cent ownership of the people on the country's natural resources and not to sign any secret deal with foreign energy companies.

Professor Anu also said the new government should make public all the energy agreements and scrap the deals which were against the interest of the country.

The committee demanded that the government should realise compensation from Chevron and Niko for Magurchhara and Tengratila gas fields blow-outs, punish Cairn for concealing information on Sangu gas field and takes steps against over-extraction of gas by Chevron from Bibiyana gas field and awarding of areas adjacent to Jalalabad gas field to Chevron.

The committee also stressed the need for strengthening Bangladesh Petroleum Exploration and Production Company, Petrobangla, Geological Survey of Bangladesh and Bureau of Mineral Development.

It also proposed setting up of a separate ministry or department for maritime area and demarcation of Bangladesh's maritime boundary.

The committee demanded punishment of the minister, bureaucrat, consultant and business people who were involved with signing agreements against the country.

Committee convenor Sheikh Md Shahidullah, Nur Mohammad, M Shamsul Alam and Moshrefa Mishu, among others, were present at the news briefing.

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