The coronavirus has taken its toll on the launch of the Bangladesh offshore licensing round, with the most recently proposed date of September no longer on the table.

The Ministry of Power, Energy & Mineral Resources has now postponed indefinitely the next offshore licensing exercise.

The ministry’s Energy & Mineral Resources Division had intended to announce on Tuesday a launch date of 15 September — the centenary of the birth of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the nation’s first president.

However, the bid round will now not open until concern over the spread of Covid-19 and its fallout has passed.

Energy-deficient Bangladesh for years has planned to host another offshore licensing round with hopes that international players will line up to explore its gas-prospective acreage near the maritime boundary with Myanmar.

The now-defunct schedule had envisaged a deadline for bid submissions on 10 March 2021 with the award of production sharing contracts by 26 May next year, reported the Financial Express.

Bangladesh’s last offshore licensing round was held eight years ago and although subsequently one deep-water and several shallow-water production sharing contracts were awarded, no exploration wells to date have been drilled on any of these acreages.

The deep-water blocks to be offered in the next licensing round will have improved PSC terms but consultant sources are not entirely convinced these will be sufficient to tempt industry heavy-hitters.