The India-Bangladesh Friendship Diesel Pipeline has been a significant development in the relationship between India and Bangladesh. The pipeline connects Siliguri in West Bengal, India, to Parbatipur in Dinajpur district of Bangladesh, over a distance of 130 km. With a capacity of 2 million tonnes per annum, the pipeline will be a reliable source of fuel for Bangladesh, while also deepening economic and energy ties between the two countries.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the India-Bangladesh Friendship Pipeline on March 18, 2023 at 1700 Hrs (IST) via video-conferencing. The Pipeline has the capacity to transport 1 Million Metric Ton Per Annum (MMTPA) of High-Speed Diesel (HSD). It will supply high-speed diesel initially to seven districts in northern Bangladesh, the statement said.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina regards the inauguration of the "India-Bangladesh Friendship Pipeline" as a milestone in the development of the two friendly countries.
He said, "I believe this partnership pipeline is a milestone achievement in the development of cooperation between our two friendly countries."
On Saturday (March 18), Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi formally inaugurated the newly constructed pipeline through video conference. Sheikh Hasina joined the video conference from Gana Bhavan and Modi from his office in New Delhi.
India will export diesel to Bangladesh through the 131.5 km Indo-Bangladesh Friendship Pipeline (IBFPL) constructed at a cost of around INR 3.46 billion taken from the Indian Line of Credit (LoC).
Diesel will be imported from Numaligarh Refinery in Siliguri, India to Parbatipur depot in Dinajpur district of Bangladesh through a 130 km pipeline. Of this, 125 km has fallen in the Bangladesh part and 5 km in the Indian part. The pipeline has an annual transportation capacity of 1 (one) million metric tons (MMTPA) of high-speed diesel (HSD).
After inaugurating the pipeline, both the prime ministers hoped that it would play an effective role in boosting the economy of Bangladesh. Besides, they also emphasized the need to enhance connectivity between the two countries for mutual benefit. The construction of this India-Bangladesh friendship pipeline will allow the countries to transport high-speed diesel (HSD) in a sustainable, reliable, cost-effective and environment-friendly manner. As a result, cooperation in energy security between the two countries is expected to increase.
The pipeline can transport one million metric tonnes per annum (mmtpa) of high-speed diesel, which will initially be supplied to seven districts in northern Bangladesh.
The entire shipment of petroleum will come through the cross-border pipeline from India's Numaligarh refinery located in Golaghat in Assam, northeastern India, where Bangladesh will receive it at the Parvatipur Petroleum Fuel Depot in the northwestern district of Dinajpur.
Bangladesh will operate the pipeline on its part and India will operate the pipeline on its part. Bangladesh will import 250,000 tonnes annually in the first three years, 300,000 tonnes annually in the 4th to 6th year, 350,000 tonnes annually in the 7th to 10th year and 400,000 tonnes annually in the 11th to 11th year. Currently, Bangladesh is importing 22 thousand tons of diesel every month using railway wagons. The contract can be extended for a further period. Such petroleum imports from India through cross-border pipelines will help build petroleum reserves in the northern region to meet growing demand in that part of the country.
The pipeline project has been in the works for several years, and its inauguration marks a significant milestone in the bilateral relations between India and Bangladesh. It is a clear indication of the growing cooperation and trust between the two countries and has the potential to strengthen their economic and energy ties further. One of the primary benefits of the pipeline is the reduction in transportation costs and improvement in fuel efficiency. Currently, Bangladesh imports a significant amount of fuel from Singapore and the Middle East, which incurs high transportation costs. The pipeline will provide a cost-effective alternative for Bangladesh, which will ultimately benefit consumers in the country.
The pipeline will also provide a reliable source of energy for Bangladesh, which has been struggling with frequent power shortages. The country has been heavily dependent on natural gas and coal for its energy needs, but the supply has been unable to keep up with the growing demand. The pipeline will provide a much-needed alternative source of fuel, which will help to alleviate the energy crisis in the country.
Furthermore, the pipeline is expected to enhance trade relations between the two countries, particularly in the energy sector. India is a major exporter of refined petroleum products, and the pipeline will provide Bangladesh with a reliable source of high-quality fuel. In turn, Bangladesh can export surplus power to India, which will help to address India's growing demand for energy. This will deepen economic ties between the two countries and open up new opportunities for trade and investment. The pipeline has the potential to create a win-win situation for both countries. India will benefit from increased trade with Bangladesh, while Bangladesh will benefit from access to reliable and cost-effective sources of fuel. The pipeline will also create new jobs in both countries, particularly in the construction and maintenance of the pipeline. However, despite the positive implications of the pipeline, there are concerns about the potential environmental impact of the project. The pipeline passes through sensitive ecological areas, including forests and wetlands, which could be adversely affected by the construction and operation of the pipeline. It is important that the project is implemented in an environmentally sustainable manner, and that the interests of local communities are safeguarded.
The pipeline is a clear indication of the growing cooperation between India and Bangladesh and their commitment to strengthening their bilateral relations. It is a significant step towards deepening economic and energy ties between the two countries and has the potential to create new opportunities for trade and investment. The pipeline project is also significant from a geopolitical perspective. China has been making significant inroads in South Asia, and India and Bangladesh have been working together to bolster the ties in the region furthermore. The pipeline project is a clear indication of the growing strategic partnership between India and Bangladesh and their commitment to strengthening in the region. Moreover, the pipeline project is not an isolated event, but part of a broader trend of increased cooperation and collaboration between India and Bangladesh.
In recent years, the two countries have signed several agreements on issues such as trade, security, and energy. This reflects a growing recognition on both sides that cooperation and collaboration are the keys to unlocking the full potential of their relationship. The India-Bangladesh Friendship Diesel Pipeline is a significant step towards deepening the economic and energy ties between the two countries. It is a clear indication of the growing cooperation and trust between India and Bangladesh and has the potential to strengthen their bilateral relations further.
Mehjabin Bhanu is a Bangladeshi columnist