Tight cooperation needed among Saarc countries : Energy security and the role of Nepal and Bhutan

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    Tight cooperation needed among Saarc countries for long-term solutions Bangladesh and its surrounding areas are thought to be rich in energy resources, which remain mainly untapped and unexplored

    SaarcNepal is primarily depended on hydroelectricity, in which, it has a huge potential, as indicated by an annual average flow of 225bn cubic metres. In terms of hydropower potential, Nepalese rivers have been graded into three categories, based on their origins. Those originated from the Himalayas have the highest potential. In category 3 are the seasonal rivers with the least potential. Category 1 and 2 rivers are thought to have a combined technical potential for generating 83,000MW, of which around half is economically feasible. Projected power demand of Nepal for 2005 was estimated 622MW. A number of projects are under development and mainly aimed for export around 18,000MW.

    In the case of Bhutan, the technically-feasible hydroelectricity potential is around 21,000MW, of which only 334MW is now being generated. Steps have been taken to unbundle the electricity sector and plans are underway to commission large power plants. This will allow Bhutan to undertake additional exports to India.

    Power Grid Corporation of India awarded a contract to a Japanese firm to provide technical consulting services for the supply of electricity from Bhutan to New Delhi along a 1,116-mile-route. Given the far closer proximity to Bangladeshi urban-industrial centres, exports to Bangladesh may be economically viable in the long run.

    India, Nepal and Bhutan are likely to be the most relevant for Bangladesh in its endeavour to chalk out a regional energy strategy. Nepal and Bhutan are endowed with considerable hydroelectricity potential and could compete with Bangladesh in the regional export market for power.

    On the other hand, India is looking to augment its sources of energy and is eyeing Bangladeshi gas along with possible pipeline gas from Iran (via Pakistan) and LNG from the UAE. As far as Bangladesh is concerned, India represents a potential market for power and gas. So, from the commercial point of view, energy demand scenarios in India need to be carefully analysed by the Bangladeshi policymakers.

    Similarly, Bangladesh also needs to focus on potentially energy-rich Nepal and Bhutan to explore the possibilities for a regional approach to energy security. The energy resource base in Myanmar and Northeast India is also considerable; Bangladesh will need to keep these in mind while formulating its energy development strategy. A more enlightened approach may well be, to link up with the Myanmar gas pipeline, which goes all the way to Thailand, thus providing access to SE Asia.

    So, it is keen to build up a tight cooperation between the Saarc countries that can be very helpful to reduce the energy deviation in these countries.

    Source : Dhaka Tribune