November 4, 2008 / 8:05 AM / 11 years ago

Myanmar to continue oil search despite Dhaka row

YANGON, Nov 4 (Reuters) - Myanmar will press ahead with oil and gas exploration in deep-sea blocks in the Bay of Bengal, a government official said on Tuesday after Bangladesh laid claim to the disputed area.

Bangladesh sent a naval patrol to the area on Sunday after Myanmar began exploration in the blocks, thought to be rich in gas reserves. The two have been holding talks for years to demarcate their border in the Bay of Bengal.

“We have no reason to stop the exploration activities since these blocks are located in our exclusive economic zone. We will go ahead with it,” the senior official from Myanmar’s Foreign Ministry told Reuters.

“We summoned the Bangladeshi ambassador to the Foreign Ministry on November 2 and lodged a complaint against the intrusion of their naval ships into our territory, and told them to leave,” the official said, declining to be named.

Bangladesh said on Monday it wanted to avoid any confrontation and, as ships from the two countries faced off in the disputed waters, it said it would send a diplomatic team to Myanmar on Wednesday.

“They suggested sending a special envoy here to talk about it, so we decided to listen to what they will say, just because we don’t want undesirable consequences,” the Myanmar official said.

A technical delegation would go to Bangladesh in the middle of the month to discuss maritime boundary demarcation, he added. The Bangladeshi side said the meeting was scheduled for Nov. 16 and 17 in Dhaka.

A Bangladeshi naval official said Myanmar had halted exploration activities, although its ships and oil personnel remained in the area.

Bangladesh said last year some offshore blocks that Myanmar had been trying to explore in cooperation with India were in its waters. (Reporting by Aung Hla Tun; Writing by Alan Raybould; Editing by Darren Schuettler)

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