2045Published on September 18, 2018
The prime ministers of Bangladesh and India have jointly unveiled the plaque of a 130km cross-border oil pipeline project, known as Bangladesh-India Friendship Pipeline.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi flagged off the construction work of the pipeline via video- conferencing from the Ganabhaban in Dhaka and New Delhi, respectively, on Tuesday.
In addition, they inaugurated the construction of India-financed railway lines from Dhaka to Tongi and Tongi to Joydebpur that is expected to ease travel on different routes.
Through the pipeline, 250,000 tonnes of diesel will be supplied a year from Numaligarh refinery at Siliguri in Assam to Dinajpur’s Parbatipur depot initially.
The target is to raise the annual supply to 400,000 tonnes. The line with a diameter of 22 inches can supply 1 million tonnes a year.
A 125km stretch of the pipeline will be in Bangladesh and the remainder in India.
India will provide Rs 3.03 billion and Bangladesh Petroleum Exploration and Production Company Limited Tk 1.5 billion for the Tk 5.2 billion project.
Bangladesh started importing diesel from India by railway wagons in March, 2016. Once laid out, the pipeline will save both transport cost and time.
Bangladesh currently spends $3 to import each barrel of crude oil, which is sent to different areas after refining in Chattogram, according to Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation officials.
The cost to transport oil from Chattogram to the northern districts by road is $4 to $5 per barrel, which means the total expense rises to $7 to $8 per barrel.
The total cost to provide refined oil to the northern districts will be around $5.5 per barrel once the pipeline is set up, the government expects.
The two countries signed a memorandum of understanding or MoU in 2015 after discussions on the construction of the pipeline. The governments of Bangladesh and India cleared the project in August last year.
Indian firms AFCONS and Kalpataru will jointly construct the railways – third and fourth dual gauge lines from Dhaka to Tongi, and dual gauge double lines from Tongi to Joydebpur. The estimated time to complete the project is three years from the beginning.
The Indian government will provide over Tk 9.02 billion in credit while Bangladesh government will fund over Tk 2.04 billion to complete the project.
Raising the capacity of the Dhaka-Tongi section has become urgent as the number of passengers has increased, railways officials say.
Train journeys from Dhaka to southwest and north via Tongi and Joydebpur, and to Chattogram and Sylhet will be more comfortable and faster once the project ends, they hope.
A total of 96 kilometres of dual gauge lines, including embankments, will be constructed under the project. As many as 25 culverts, six platforms and sheds, 12 footbridges, four station complexes and other necessary structures will also be built.
Besides the two prime ministers, Finance Minister AMA Muhith, Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali, Railways Minister Md Mazibul Hoque, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam, Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, and High Commissioner Harsh Vardhan Shringla took part in the video-conferencing.
Hasina and Modi inaugurated supply of 500MW power from India to Bangladesh and construction of two railway projects via video-conferencing on Sept 10.