National oil company Petrobangla is submitting a compensation claim of approximately $600 million to US oil company Unocal over the Magurchhara gas explosion of 1997.

The board of directors of Petrobangla reached their decision after the Ministry of Energy gave permission for compensation to be sought for the explosion.

The figure is reported to have been calculated by using the price at which Unocal sells gas to Petrobangla from the Jalalabad gas field (around $2.6 per thousand cubic feet).

Petrobangla could not previously demand compensation as the Awami League government shelved the official report of the Magurchhara inquiry committee, and all information was filed as classified.

Unocal bought Occidental's Bangladeshi concerns in 1999 and in late 2000 the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Energy raised the issue of the report, which was then handed to Petrobangla.

Petrobangla is now seeking the Ministry of Energy's comments before submitting its compensation claim to Unocal.

For further information on this topic please contact Azarul Haque at Legal Remedy by telephone (+880 2 955 0645) or by fax (+880 2 955 0645) or by email ([email protected]).