Bangladesh has struck its first oil, in two gas fields in the northeastern Sylhet region, the chairman of the state-run Oil, Gas and Mineral Corporation (Petrobangla) has said.

"This is first time that we have found economically viable oil resources, estimated at about 153 million barrels, in the two gas fields, 280km from the capital," Mohammad Hussain Monsur told reporters on Sunday, adding that production could begin within a year.

"Today is a very significant day for Bangladesh," he said.

Bangladesh Petroleum Exploration and Production Company Limited (BAPEX), the exploration arm of Petrobangla, confirmed the oil find and BAPEX's managing director, Mortuza Ahmed Faruque, said the oil found was light, low sulphur quality.

Monsur also said exploration drilling will now be undertaken to see if other gas fields in the country hold similar or larger
oil reserves.

The latest discovery has brought new hopes for Bangladesh's energy-starved economy.

According to Petrobangla officials, the reserve is enough to meet the country's oil demand for two years. Annual oil demand is currently around 25 million barrels.

Bangladesh imports around seven million tonnes of oil at a  rate worth several billion dollars, putting heavy inflationary pressure on the economy.

Source: Agencies