Future decisions could have geo-political ramifications
In recent times, Asia has started to play a vital role in the global energy market. In international energy politics, it is also playing an important role. The reason can be the rising demand of energy in Asia.
Another reason can be the policies that have been taken to secure energy supplies. The Bay of Bengal region in Asia is also playing a vital role in energy security, supply, and transportation. The Bay of Bengal is important to many countries because of its geographic importance.
The region is centrally situated in South and Southeast Asia. Large amounts of natural gas in this region have affected the relationship among countries situated in the region. In fact, diplomatic spats have been increasing among many of the countries.
India is a country with limited energy resources. For its energy security, a smooth flow of energy-related technologies imported from abroad is a necessity. For that, India needs to export more to maintain import costs. India must also build better relationships with other countries that are in similar situations.
China is a country that is vital for India. India must build active cooperative relations with China in the context of the energy sector, which would help in energy resource management, its utilization, geo-political issues, market-related intervention, and research and development. Maritime vulnerabilities must also be reduced by India to secure their growing need for fossil fuels.
India must invest heavily in research and development in deep sea natural gas exploration. Developing and using new technologies would bring great results for the country. The India Hydrocarbon Vision 2025 report has shown an important picture of the Indian energy security situation. It has shown that in the next 25 years, India’s requirement of oil and gas would significantly increase.
It has also shown that India’s domestic resources will not be able to meet the high demand. For fueling the needs of power, fertilizer, and industrial sectors, and for domestic usage, India’s gas requirement would also increase.
The Bay of Bengal has emerged as an important region for India because of the recent discoveries of natural gas within the region. Bangladesh and Myanmar have also made similar discoveries. For that reason, it has become very important for India in terms of energy security.
The South Korean conglomerate Daewoo has made a natural gas discovery in Block D-12 in the Bay of Bengal in Bangladesh. Five prospective structures can be held by Bangladesh. One of the five structures could be moderate gas fields. It has, therefore, naturally made the Bay of Bengal even more important to Bangladesh.
For China, it is also assumed that the Bay of Bengal is very important in matters of energy. China is slowly increasing its influence in the Bay of Bengal and it is assumed that China’s strategy is to develop dependencies among nations like Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh through initiatives like the Maritime Silk Route and the recently introduced One Belt One Road initiative.
Because of the rising influence of China within this region, India is facing certain challenges. With rising Chinese interests in the Bay of Bengal -- as it creates oil terminals in the coastal cities and pipelines to transport oil and gas from the Bay to its southern territories -- Chinese maritime activities will undoubtedly continue and increase in the Bay to ensure these financial resources in the future.
It may be a matter of concern for India, but such a situation does not look to happen in the near future. The existing economic linkage and geographical proximity to India, China, and other ASEAN countries will make Myanmar’s balancing act with all the significant players a pre-requisite for success and security of the Bay of Bengal area.
Aslam Jony is a freelance contributor.