Protest in Bangladesh against gas exploration deal
September 14, 2009
Several thousand people rallied in Bangladesh''s capital against new gas exploration deals with foreign companies, blocking downtown streets, singing and throwing stones, according to the Associated Press. But activists'' calls for a half-day strike in Dhaka, a city of 12 million, were largely ignored. Bangladeshi authorities last month awarded three offshore blocks to U.S.-based ConocoPhillips and Ireland''s Tullow Oil to explore for gas in the Bay of Bengal, as the country faces a forecast that its current reserves will run out by 2014 or 2015. A local pressure group, the National Committee to Protect Oil-Gas Mineral Resources, Power and Ports, fears the companies will export any gas they find and deprive the energy-deficient country of its own resources. Foreign companies explore and produce gas in deals with the state-run Petrobangla corporation. But successive governments have discouraged gas exports, saying at least 50 years'' worth of reserves must be maintained for domestic use. Bangladesh has proven natural gas reserves of up to 15 trillion cubic feet (420 billion cubic meters).