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8 August, 2019 12:25:35 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 8 August, 2019 12:42:15 PM

Govt keen to cut reliance on imported LNG

Country to observe Energy Security Day tomorrow
Shahed Siddique, Dhaka
Govt keen to cut reliance on imported LNG

The government may cut back on the country’s current dependence on the imported liquefied natural gas (LNG) in finalising a long-term gas sector plan. This decision is likely to be triggered by the difficulties in arranging large amounts of money for the costly import. At a meeting held last month at Petrobangla, the policymakers were instructed to prepare a gas sector master plan (GSMP) where the dependence on LNG will be less.

Nasrul Hamid, state minister for energy and power, told The Independent: “We are planning to increase off-shore and on-shore gas production to meet the local demand. We hope to reduce dependence on the imported LNG.” The draft of GSMP shows that to become a developed country, Bangladesh should daily consume 8,900 million cubic feet (MMCF) of gas. This demand would be difficult to meet as the gas reserves would be depleted in the next 15 years.

The country would have to import 5,000MMCF of gas from the international market by spending several billion dollars to meet the total projected gas consumption of 8,900 MMCF. Sources said the main challenge would be to continue basic fuel (gas, coal, oil) supply at affordable rates to push the country’s economy towards a double-digit target in future.

Meanwhile, the country will celebrate Energy Security Day tomorrow (Friday). The day is being so observed to commemorate a historic decision taken by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman way back in 1975. On that day, Bangabandhu had purchased five gas fields from Shell Oil for only 4.5 million pound sterling. These gas fields were Titas, Bakhrabad, Habiganj, Rashidpur and Kailashtila. The extractable gas reserves of these five fields amounted to 15.4 tcf (trillion cubic feet). About half of this has already been extracted. Even now, about 40 per cent of the gas being used daily in the country comes from these fields.

Petrobangla recently submitted a report to the Parliamentary Steering Committee for Energy and Power Ministry, informing the policymakers that the country’s present gas reserve was 11.02 tcf till July 2019 and that the amount could be exhausted in the next 10–12 years.

At present, Petrobangla supplies 3,300 MMCF of gas a day. Of this, the imported LNG is more than 600 MMCF per day. To import LNG, the country has to spend USD 2 billion annually. But, if the supply of LNG is increased to 1,000 MMCF a day, the import bill would increase to USD 3 billion.

To pay the LNG import bill and minimise losses, the BERC increased the gas price for all consumers in Uune this year. BERC member Mizanur Rahman said the gas utility companies had to increase the gas price by 75 per cent due to the loss incurred because of the import of LNG at a high price. 

The official told The Independent that before 2041, the targeted year by which the government wants to make Bangladesh a developed country, the demand for gas would be 8,900 MMCF, out of which 5,000 MMCF would have to be imported. That, the official said, was a matter of concern for the government.

One of the officials present at the meeting held at Petrobangla told this correspondent: “At the meeting, the government’s view was not to depend on imported gas. The country is laready bleeding to import the costly LNG from the international market despite the gas price hike from last June.”

Sources said more than 3,000 MMCF of the imported LNG would not be fed into the national pipe line in 2041. But it is difficult to reduce the limit as there is no sign as yet of any big discovery of on-shore and off-shore gas.

“It’s likely that there will be no gas from off-shore before 2025. If we get big a reserve in the Bay of Bengal (off-shore), we predict we will get 200MMCF per day from the off-shore field. In 2030, the production could be 800 MMCF. But by then, the exiting fields could be dry up,” said a Petrobangla official.

Bangladesh discovered the prospects of a big deep-sea gas reserve after the resolution of its maritime boundary disputes with Myanmar and India. A 2D seismic survey along the Myanmar border has revealed that Bangladesh could have a minimum of five prospective structures in the Bay of Bengal in Block D-12. The operator of the block, the South Korean conglomerate Daewoo Corporation, officially informed Petrobangla about the finding and expressed its interest in doing a 3D seismic survey in the block, which is located along the Myanmar gas block-AD 7.

Daewoo and its Australian partner, Woodside Energy, also operate Myanmar’s AD-7, which was discovered in 2016. “This raises high hopes for the nation as we see a good prospect in the block. But until we hit the gas, nobody can say anything confirmatory,” said a Petrobangla official.

In a presentation, Daewoo said it surveyed 1,580 sq km in the deep sea early this year. The analysis of the survey results confirmed the existence of five structures that could be moderate gas fields.

“We are working on it, but the matter has not yet been finalised. Before confirmation, we cannot make any comment,” said Petrobangla chairman Ruhul Amin.

Dr M Tamim, an energy expert, told The Independent: “In my analysis, I have shown the policymakers that if we are not able to discover a big gas field in the next five to 10 years, the LNG import bill will increase up to USD 20 billion  in 2030 from USD 2 billion in 2019. So, we are getting a picture of what will happen after a few years.”

“In this context, I suggest we should emphasise exploration on land and the Bay of Bengal. Otherwise, the economy will not sustain at our expected level,” he said.

Blocks (in Bay of Bengal) SS-11, SS-04 and DS-12 are now being explored to get oil and gas. Also, the international company TGS-SCHLUMBERGER has been awarded the contract to do a 2D multi-client survey in the Bay of Bengal.




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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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