POST TIME: 18 February, 2019 00:00 00 AM
Govt to hire UK firm to extract mineral resources from Bay
Deepak Acharjee, Dhaka

Govt to hire UK firm to extract mineral resources from Bay

After five years of winning about 118,813 sq km of maritime boundary, the government is going to extract mineral resources like gas hydrates from the seabed and continental shelf of the Bay of Bengal. For extracting mineral resources, the government is soon going to appoint a Britain-based research organisation, National Oceanography Centre, Southampton (NOCS), according to foreign ministry sources. The research organisation would be appointed under a state-to-state deal at a cost of Tk. 5 crore for two years, the sources said.

The foreign ministry has prepared a proposal in this regard, and it would be placed at the meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs today (Monday), the sources added. In the proposal, Md Shahidul Haque, senior secretary of the foreign ministry, said there was a chance to find huge quantities of gas hydrates in the seabed of the Bay of Bengal which will help meet the country’s energy demands.

“Already, the Indian authorities concerned have confirmed the presence of huge quantities of gas hydrates in the seabed of their territory. They have already started digging wells in three areas—the Krishna-Godavari, Mohananda Basin and the Andaman Island to extract gas hydrates,” the proposal states.

“The foreign ministry had conducted a 1700-km-long seismic survey with the help of a French company in 2008 and another 3100-km-long seismic survey with the help of a Dutch company in 2010. The seismic survey data of 5000 km is lying idle. And that’s why, the authorities concerned are going to conduct the ‘desktop study’ under a special programme with the help of foreign experts to find out the possible existence of any minerals under the these seismic lines,” it says.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), when gas molecules are trapped in a lattice of water molecules at temperatures above 0°C and pressures above one atmosphere, they can form a stable solid like gas hydrates.

Most gas hydrates are formed from methane (CH4), which is the simplest hydrocarbon and primary component of the natural gas that we burn for energy.

Gas hydrate deposits along ocean margins are estimated to exceed known petroleum reserves by about a factor of three. These hydrate beds leak gases into the water, forming cold seeps on the ocean floor. This hydrocarbon seepage is common on continental margins around the world.

Gas hydrates influence ocean carbon cycling, global climate change, and coastal sediment stability.

The Briain-based NOCS is a centre for research, teaching, and technology development in ocean and earth sciences. NOCS was jointly set up in 1995 by the University of Southampton and the UK Natural Environment Research Council. It is located within the port of Southampton.