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Dhaka Tuesday,  Oct 4, 2022

US Won’t Object To Oil Imports From Russia: PM’s Energy Adviser

Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, the prime minister’s adviser on power, energy and mineral resources, believes the United States will not stand in the way of Bangladesh purchasing fuel from Russia in the face of a volatile global oil market.

In a media briefing at the Prime Minister’s Office on Wednesday, Chowdhury said his view on the matter was based on his recent meeting with Jose Fernandez, US under secretary for economic growth, energy, and the environment.

Russia has been hit by a raft of sanctions by the US and its Western allies after launching its military offensive in Ukraine in February. The ramifications of the war and the ensuing sanctions have been marked, as the prices of fertilisers, fuel, gas and food have soared around the world.

Like other developing nations, Bangladesh, too, has been reeling from the economic impact of the conflict as the surge in fuel oil prices in the international market forced it to cut back on power generation and introduce other austerity measures.

With commodity prices spiraling, the South Asian country has started importing fertilisers from Russia using alternative payment methods.

Dhaka is now exploring opportunities to import oil from Russia. However, the controversy and debate raging around neighbouring India’s decision to import refined oil from Russia emphasises the need for caution.

Addressing the matter, Chowdhury said, “In the meeting with Under Secretary Fernandez, I highlighted the situation that countries like us are facing as a result of the war.”

The ongoing war in Ukraine poses a great threat to developing countries. I think the US administration is aware of this. They are thinking of ways to limit the impact of the war. My personal view is that the war will diminish in intensity.”

The adviser highlighted the fact that the energy crisis threatens to undermine the achievements made by Bangladesh over the last few years.

The US under secretary heaped praised on Bangladesh and cited its advancement under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina as an example for other developing countries, according to Chowdhury.

Chowdhury said he then raised the subject of buying fuel from Russia, citing the skyrocketing prices in the international market.

“Fernandez said that there is no sanction on fertilisers, food and oil. I then directly asked if we could bring in diesel from another place [Russia].”

But, the under secretary did not directly respond to the question, according to Chowdhury. “He neither said yes or no. But, I took it as a yes. Now the diplomats can provide further details.”

“An opportunity has come to buy oil from other suppliers at a lower price. I think the United States will support us in this regard. Europe is still the largest importer of Russian oil. This is the reality. If the price of fuel decreases, the problems that Bangladesh are currently facing will cease.”

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