Burma, Bangladesh maritime dispute ends

Burma, Bangladesh maritime dispute ends

(Mizzima) – The dispute over a resource-rich area of the sea claimed by both Burma and Bangladesh was settled by a United Nations court on Wednesday.

Transocean International’s semi-submersible drilling rig, the Actinia.

The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in German fixed new boundaries that were seen as a compromise to a decades-old dispute.

“Both sides won something and lost something,” said the German judge on the panel, Ruediger Wolfrum, according to the German news agency, DPA.

A Bangladesh official said it was a “victory for both sides,” and Dhaka and Burma could now begin to exploit the area for gas and oil. The court’s ruling cannot be appealed.

Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dipu Moni said Bangladesh claimed 66,486 square miles, and received an 68,972 square mile area in the Bay of Bengal and they have got all they wanted. St Martin’s island is included in Bangladesh’s maritime boundary, and Burma’s must relinquish its claim to the island.

The decades-long dispute had led to tense stand-offs involving war ships in 2008 when Bangladesh accused Burma of exploring for gas in disputed waters.

Burma has discovered huge reserves of natural gas in the Bay of Bengal and has said it plans to explore further in the area. Dhaka hopes to resolve a similar maritime border dispute with India in 2014.

On November 2, 2008, the Bangladeshi government announced that the previous day its naval vessel the BNS Nirvoy detected the Burmese navy escorting four drilling ships and a tug pulling the 100-metre-long drill rig Transocean Legend in waters claimed by Dhaka. Dhaka’s accusation that Burma had violated its sovereign maritime territory was the first sign of a serious diplomatic spat that followed with a costly and heated naval stand off between two of the world’s poorest nations.

Two days later, the Daewoo Corporation, Transocean and the Burmese regime withdrew their vessels.  It was reported that the Korean and Chinese governments had intervened to de-escalate the situation. China is set to be the destination of most of the gas Daewoo and its partners extract from off Burma’s Arakan coast.

A Daewoo International report issued in March 2010 revealed that the firm increased its stake in the contested block after its three partners pulled out. The report did not mention any exploration activity in the disputed block since the standoff in November 2008.

Burma was represented by Attorney General Dr. Tun Shin; Professor Alain Pellet; Sir Michael Wood; Professor Mathias Forteau; Daniel Muller; Coalter Lathrop; Hla Myo New (Deputy Director General, Consular and Legal Affairs Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Burma); and Kyaw San (Deputy Director General, Attorney General’s Office of Burma). Bangladesh was represented by 10 representatives including Foreign Minister Dipu Moni.