Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ)
The Bay of Bengal is situated in the South of Bangladesh. There is a total of 166,000 sq. km. water area including Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Fishing is only confined within 100-meter depth. About 127 trawlers, 44,000 mechanized and non-mechanized boats are engaged in fishing. Pelagic and deep-sea resources are still untapped. In the year 2006-07 fish production was 24.40 lakh metric ton (MT) in which only 35,391 MT. was trawl catch. Since India,s discovery of gas and oil in 2005-2006, the Bay of Bengal has become a coveted area for natural resource exploration.
In 2006, Daewoo and its consortium partners Korean Gas Corporation, India's ONGC Videsh, and GAIL India, signed a thirty-year production sharing contract (PSC) to develop offshore blocks A-3 and A-1 with state-owned Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE), the Myanmar Government entity responsible for the development of oil and gas production. Both blocks are located in the Bay of Bengal, off the coast of Northern Rakhine State in the western part of Burma. According to Daewoo Myanmar Managing Director Dr. Su-Yeong Yang, these blocks were considered to be in Burmese territorial waters when Daewoo signed the contract; had the area been in dispute, Daewoo would not have agreed to the terms. He noted that Daewoo has been conducting exploratory drilling in A-1 and A-3 blocks for more than two years. Daewoo in late 2007 submitted to MOGE a detailed exploration plan for the westernmost part of the A-3 block, which was approved.
On 01 November 2008 Burma decided to explore for oil and gas in disputed waters between Burma and Bangladesh, and dispatched four exploration ships, accompanied by two naval warships. By these actions, Burma breached a commitment that neither country would begin resource exploration until the border dispute was settled. The Government of Bangladesh demanded the withdrawal of the naval vessels from Bangladeshi waters until the maritime borders were clearly delineated. Bangladesh responded by deploying three naval ships to the area, approximately 50 nautical miles southwest of St. Martin's Island.
A Daewoo rig, staffed by approximately 120 foreign and Burmese engineers, and its supply ships had been in the "disputed waters" in the A-3 block for more than three weeks before Bangladeshi naval warships ordered them on 01 November 2008 to vacate the area. In fact, Daewoo had already drilled exploratory wells in a nearby area, which may also be in "disputed waters". Company officials were surprised that instead of working directly through diplomatic channels with either the Myanmar Government or Daewoo, the Bangladesh Government instead chose to engage in "gunboat diplomacy," ordering Daewoo to leave under threat of fire.
The warships approached the Daewoo rig on 01 November 2008 and demanded documentation - schedules and a drilling program. Upon receipt of the information, Bangladeshi naval officers told rig officials to move the rig immediately. Daewoo officials refused, saying they were in the middle of drilling and the company had a concessionary right to be in the area. Davidson said that on November 2, the Bangladeshi naval officials told Daewoo that they had until November 10 to stop drilling, dismantle the rig, and leave the area or there would be consequences. They also told Daewoo that the company could not send in boats or helicopters to assist. Rig officials highlighted that without transportation support, they would not be able to meet the November 10 deadline.
On November 3, the Bangladeshi naval officers asked rig officials for an official letter from Daewoo explaining the need for ship and helicopter support. Daewoo officials in Rangoon drafted a document detailing Daewoo's contract for the A-3 block, Myanmar Government permissions to drill, and the process by which a rig could be dismantled and moved. Daewoo submitted the document to MOGE for transmission per diplomatic protocols. MOGE never delivered the statement. Based on informal conversations between Bangladesh Navy officials and Daewoo rig officers, Daewoo officials were confident that had MOGE provided the Government of Bangladesh with the letter, Daewoo would have been able to continue drilling.
On November 4, Daewoo, recognizing that the territorial dispute could take months to negotiate, ordered the rig to be dismantled. To speed up the process, rig officials asked the Bangladeshi naval officers for permission to bring in support boats and helicopters. The Government of Bangladesh agreed to allow some support, and naval commanders in the Bay of Bengal are now authorized to review and approve individual requests. On November 5, one Daewoo helicopter landed on the rig, bringing supplies and a new crew. On November 6, Daewoo received permission for two helicopter missions.
The Bangladeshi Government sent an envoy to Burma on 06 November 2008 to negotiate the territorial boundaries with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Since the area in question is believed to be rich in natural gas the stakes appeared to be high. Daewoo remained committed to work in Burma, and with each exploratory well, moved closer to reaping its financial rewards. News reports indicated that the Bangladeshi Government asked the Chinese to help broker an agreement.
On 15 March 2012 the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea awarded Bangladesh an exclusive economic zone measuring 685 square kilometers in the Bay of Bengal, as well as full access to the outer continental shelf. The court also awarded Bangladesh a 41-square-kilometer territorial sea area around the island of St. Martin's. The decision means Dhaka can pursue oil and gas exploration in the resource-rich area. Bangladesh filed its case against Burma at the U.N. maritime tribunal in 2009.
Bangladesh argued that great inequity would result if equidistance is applied in the case between Bangladesh and Myanmar due to extreme concavity faced by Bangladesh. Bangladesh justified this argument with case laws like North Sea Case & Guinea/Guinea Bissau Arbitration as well as with state practices, like, Senegal/Gambia, Dominica/France, France/Monaco, Malaysia/Brunei and so on to show that, concavity has been always given special consideration for discarding equidistance in maritime delimitation. Bangladesh, having a long coastline which faces only the sea deserved something equitable, not a cut-off by neighboring countries. Myanmar's approach of drawing provisional equidistance line ignored St. Martins Island, an integral feature of Bangladesh's coast. Various rules and judicial precedents like, Dubai/Sharjah Case, Rumania/Ukraine Case and Myanmar/India (Andaman Nicobor) maritime delimitation agreement in favor of giving full effect to St. Martin's Island.
Proceedings in the case were instituted before the Tribunal on 14 December 2009. Further to the filing of written pleadings by the Parties, the hearing took place in September 2011. The dispute concerns the delimitation of the maritime boundary between Bangladesh and Myanmar in the Bay of Bengal with respect to the territorial sea, the exclusive economic zone and the continental shelf. It is the first case of the Tribunal relating to the delimitation of maritime boundaries.
In its judgment, the Tribunal had to address a number of issues raised by the Parties. Those included: the claim made by Bangladesh that the delimitation of the territorial sea had already been agreed by the Parties in 1974; and the delimitation of the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf within 200 nautical miles from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured. In addition, the Tribunal had to deal with the request of Bangladesh that the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles limit be delimited, a request which was opposed by Myanmar. The Tribunal then had to decide whether it could and should exercise its jurisdiction in respect of the delimitation of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles.
The Tribunal decided that starting from point 1, with the coordinates 20° 42 15.8 N, 92° 22 07.2 E in WGS 84 as geodetic datum, as agreed by the Parties in 1966, the line of the single maritime boundary shall follow a geodetic line until it reaches point 2 with the coordinates 20° 40 45.0 N, 92° 20 29.0 E. From point 2 the single maritime boundary shall follow the median line formed by segments of geodetic lines connecting the points of equidistance between St. Martins Island and Myanmar through point 8 with the coordinates 20° 22 46.1 N, 92° 24 09.1 E. From point 8 the single maritime boundary follows in a northwesterly direction the 12 nm envelope of arcs of the territorial sea around St Martins Island until it intersects at point 9 (with the coordinates 20° 26 39.2 N, 92° 9 50.7 E) with the delimitation line of the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf between the Parties.
It also decided that, from point 9 the single maritime boundary follows a geodetic line until point 10 with the coordinates 20° 13 06.3 N, 92° 00 07.6 E and then along another geodetic line until point 11 with the coordinates 20° 03 32.0 N, 91° 50 31.8 E. From point 11 the single maritime boundary continues as a geodetic line starting at an azimuth of 215° until it reaches the 200 nm limit calculated from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea of Bangladesh is measured.
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