Bangladesh says ConocoPhillips seeking more gas blocks

DHAKA Sun Apr 8, 2012 7:16am EDT

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DHAKA (Reuters) - Bangladesh says U.S. energy firm ConocoPhillips (COP.N) is seeking to expand operations in the Bay of Bengal following a U.N. tribunal border ruling which cleared the way for more offshore oil and gas exploration in the region.

A senior energy official said on Sunday the U.S. company sought exploration rights in six new deep-water gas blocks in the Bay after a tribunal ruled last month in favor of Bangladesh in a decades-old maritime border dispute with Myanmar.

"The U.S. firm has expressed its willingness to get more blocks to explore oil and gas in the deep sea," said Muhammad Hussain Monsur, chairman of the state-run Bangladesh Oil, Gas and Mineral Corporation known as Petrobangla.

ConocoPhillips made no comment.

ConocoPhillips, which was awarded two deep-sea blocks by Bangladesh four years ago to explore oil and gas, has already completed seismic surveys in those blocks and is hoping to proceed with exploration work soon.

Neighboring Myanmar had previously protested against Bangladesh awarding the offshore blocks to explore gas and oil, claiming they overlapped Yangon's territorial waters.

"ConocoPhillips is now able to operate within the full area of DS-08-11 block as the maritime boundary dispute with Myanmar has been ended," Monsur said.

ConocoPhillips pledged to invest $110.66 million and offered a bank guarantee of the same amount for its two approved deep-water offshore blocks.

(Reporting By Serajul Quadir; Editing by Anis Ahmed and Mike Nesbit)

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