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Bangladesh signs gasoil import deal with India

By Ruma Paul

DHAKA (Reuters) - Bangladesh on Sunday signed a long-term sales and purchase agreement with an Indian refiner to import gasoil to meet the country's energy demand, officials said.

The deal between Bangladesh Petroleum Corp (BPC) and Numaligarh Refinery Limited (NRL) was signed in presence of India's External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who arrived in Dhaka on Sunday on a two-day visit to discuss bilateral issues.

Her visit comes as Bangladesh is struggling to cope with an influx of almost 600,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees from Myanmar since Aug. 25 when the U.N. says the Myanmar army began a campaign of "ethnic cleansing" following insurgent attacks.

The deal with NRL, which is majority owned by refiner Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL), is the country's first long-term agreement with any Indian supplier.

Under the deal, BPC will take up to 250,000 tonnes of gasoil each year from NRL for the first three years of the deal to the BPC's northern fuel depot via a 131-km (79 mile) pipeline, which will be built by India.

The import volume will be increased in line with demand, a senior BPC official said, adding the deal would come into effect when the pipeline is built.

BPC will pay a premium of $5.50 per barrel over Middle East quotes under the 15-year deal, up from the current premiums of $2.20 a barrel for gasoil cargoes it receives by tanker through the country's southeastern port of Chittagong, the official said.

"The premium is cost-effective as there is no added cost as the supply will be delivered to the deport in the northern part," the BPC official said.

NRL already supplies a small volume to state-owned BPC for the country's northern region.

The refinery, located in the eastern Indian state of Assam, will supply around 22,000 tonnes of gasoil with a sulphur content of 500 parts per million (ppm) between October and December by railroad, BPC officials said.

BPC received its first batch this month under the three-month agreement.

Bangladesh typically ships in around 3.2 million tonnes of diesel and 2.5 million tonnes of fuel oil annually.

Sellers include Kuwait Petroleum Corp, Malaysia's Petroliam Nasional Berhad, Emirates National Oil Company, Philippines National Oil Co, Vietnam's Petrolimex, Thailand's PTT, Indonesia's Bumi Siak Pusako and Zhenhua Oil.

(Reporting by Ruma Paul, editing by David Evans)