Bangladesh-India oil pipeline set for inauguration

The project is Bangladesh’s first international oil pipeline, connecting West Bengal and Dinajpur

Published : 7 March 2023, 11:22 AM
Updated : 7 March 2023, 11:22 AM

The construction of Bangladesh’s oil pipeline with India is complete, connecting West Bengal to the Dinajpur district.

The Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation, the state fuel importer and distributor, will use the country’s first international pipeline for tests on Wednesday.

The project, known as India-Bangladesh Friendship Pipeline,

stretches 130 km from West Bengal’s Siliguri to a Meghna petroleum depot in Dinajpur’s Parbatipur.

The pipeline project launched in March 2020 had an initial deadline of June 2022. However, it was pushed back another year due to complications from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Oil will be coming through the pipeline from the Numaligarh Refinery Limited distribution terminal for testing of the pipeline from Mar 8, according to ABM Azad, chairman of BPC. The pipeline will have a test run for a week, operating for a few hours a day. Then, on Mar 18, the prime ministers of the two countries will inaugurate the pipeline officially.

The BPC depot in Dinajpur’s Parbatipur provides fuel oil to 16 districts in the region. Previously, the depot’s fuel came from the Chattogram Eastern Refinery by rail or road. In 2017, Bangladesh also began to bring 80,000 to 85,000 tonnes of oil to the depot from the Numaligarh Refinery by train.

The construction of the pipeline will cut down the transport cost for oil, save time, and allow more oil to be imported, project officials say.

Though the construction of the Parbatipur pipeline is complete, several reservoirs have not been finished yet.

The number of tank pumps at Parbatipur is sufficient for now, the BPC chairman said. It will take a few more months to complete another few tank pumps and they will be connected once they are finished, Azad added.

The pumps will cut costs as they previously had to pay to load and unload oil shipments, he said.

“Simply put, transportation costs should fall by 30 to 50 percent. If more oil comes in, expenditure will decrease. In another two to four months, it will become clear how much costs have dropped.”

Last year, Bangladesh imported six million tonnes of petrol, octane, and diesel. Diesel alone accounted for 4.8 million tonnes. Northern Bangladesh used nearly one million tonnes of fuel.

The BPC chairman said more fuel could be imported from India once the pipeline was ready.

In 2017, a long-term agreement was signed to import diesel from India to Bangladesh through the pipeline. In October that year, Numaligarh Refinery agreed to a 15-year diesel export deal with the BPC.

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi inaugurated the pipeline project in 2018.