Magazine article Geographical

Bay of Bengal

Magazine article Geographical

Bay of Bengal

Article excerpt

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

A TERRITORIAL DISPUTE IS BEING PLAYED out in the Bay of Bengal between neighbouts Bangladesh and Myanmar (Burma). Last November, both sides dispatched naval vessels to the disputed region, which is centred close to an island called St Martin's. Diplomatic sources in Bangladesh said that Burmese ships had entered into 'Bangladesh waters', and urged the vessels to withdraw so that negotiations on maritime jurisdiction could take place. Troops on both sides of the shared border were said to be on high alert.

The Bay of Bengal forms part of the northeastern segment of the Indian Ocean, and is bordered by Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand and the northern tip of Indonesia. It occupies an area of more than two million square kilometres, and numerous rivers, including the Ganges, flow into the bay itself.

While the current dispute is over territory, its roots lie in what is believed to be under that territory: vast oil and gas reserves. Estimates suggest that there could be as much as 18 billion barrels of oil and up to 200 trillion cubic feet (5.7 trillion cubic metres) of gas located in two blocks under the bay. India, Bangladesh and Myanmar are all already exploiting these resources to varying degrees, and all three are continuing to search for new reserves to develop.

For Bangladesh and Myanmar, two of the world's poorest countries, the prospect of increased oil and gas revenue is highly significant. In the past few years, India and Myanmar have been eager to explore further, while Bangladesh has been concerned that its territorial rights aren't infringed. Part of the problem lies with the laws that govern maritime territorial rights. The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea sets out the parameters in terms of a country's territorial and exclusive economic zones (12 and 200 nautical miles respectively; 22 and 370 kilometres), but the actual boundaries of these regions need to be negotiated with near neighbours. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.