ICSID holds Niko responsible for Chhatak gas field explosion: Nasrul

Staff Correspondent | Published: 16:51, May 03,2020 | Updated: 23:51, May 03,2020


The Canadabased gas exploration and production company Niko Resources have been found responsible for causing the 2005 explosion at Chhatak in Sunamganj by an international dispute resolution tribunal, revealed state minister for power Nasrul Hamid on Sunday.

The minister made the disclosure at an online press briefing more than two months after the verdict from the tribunal constituted by International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes came on February 28.

He said that the tribunal would sit soon to pass instruction on how Bangladesh should be compensated.

‘Besides paying for direct losses, Niko would have to compensate locals for harming the environment there and their health as well,’ said Nasrul.

He said that the tribunal found that Niko Resources failed to operate efficiently and comply with the international standards of petroleum industry in drilling a well at the Chhatak gas field.

In 2005, the Chhatak gas field experienced two explosions —one on January 7 and the other on January 24 — as Niko was working on drilling a well there.

‘The then BNP-Jamaat government had put the country’s important national resource in hands of an unskilled company,’ said Nasrul.

He said that the BNP-Jamaat government even tried to project the gas field sick after the explosion to allow Niko a safe exit.

In 2003, Niko was invited through a joint venture to drill a gas well at the gas field in Sunamganj by BAPEX.

In 2010, after causing the exploration, Niko went to ICSID seeking a rule that it was not responsible for the Chhatak gas field explosion, according to the minister.

The BPAEX formed a committee comprising international experts to evaluate losses caused by the explosion.   

Based on the findings of the committee, a complaint was filed with the ICSID with the demands of Niko paying $118 million to BPEX and $896 million to Bangladesh government in compensation.

In 2016, Consumers Association of Bangladesh filed a petition with the high court seeking orders with regard to confiscation of property owned by Niko and compensation for the explosion at the Chhatak gas field.

In 2011, a Canadian court fined Niko on charge of bribing former energy state minister AKM Mosharraf Hossain to get the gasfield work.

In 2007, Anti-Corruption Commission accused former prime minister Khaleda Zia and others of causing a loss more than Tk 13,000 crore to the state through corruption in awarding the Chhatak gas field drilling work to Niko.

Waves of massive movements have surged Bangladesh demanding actions against Niko for its role in the gas field explosion after the incident took place.

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