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14 January, 2020 11:58:39 PM / LAST MODIFIED: 15 January, 2020 02:36:02 PM
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Factories still wait for gas links despite LNG boost

SHAHED SIDDIQUE and FAISAL MAHMUD, Dhaka
Factories still wait for gas links despite LNG boost

The government is yet to relax its tight control on giving new gas connections to industrial units despite adding liquefied natural gas (LNG) into the national grid. At present, more than 600 MMCF (million cubic feet) of LNG is injected to the national grid every day, and the government is spending about $2 billion a year on LNG imports. But the government has given new connections to only around 200 factories in areas under Titas, Bakhrabad and Cumilla gas distribution companies in the last two years, against some 2,500 applications.  

The government started injecting LNG to national grid in 2018.

Through an office order in September last year, the government prioritized giving new gas connections to factories, power stations and fertilizer producers. Titas Gas, the largest distribution company in the country, provided 68 connections to industrial units in 2018 and 2019, according to a document obtained by The Independent. In Chattogram region, where Karnaphuli Gas Distribution Company supplies gas, around 100 industry and other non-household consumers got new connections in the last two years. More than 800 applications for industry and commercial gas connections are pending with the company.

Karnafuli has the ability to serve connections to the economic zone and other area, due to its wide transmission and distribution network.

Meanwhile, Bakhrabad Gas Distribution Company Limited has given only a few connections to new industries, said officials.

Since the government’s approval to provide industrial gas connection given by a high-power committee headed by Prime Minister’s Energy Adviser Tawfi-e-Elahi Chowdhury in 2018, Titas gas provided gas links to only 46 industrial units, 20 captive plants, and one new CNG station. One more connection will be given to a commercial establishment, said sources, while no new household gas connection will be laid out.

Talking with The Independent, Ali Mohammad Al Mamun, managing director of Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution

Companies Ltd, said they are giving gas connections on a “priority basis.” “Yes, we have received a lot of applications. But we have our hands tied. We have to provide gas connection after a lot of scrutiny,” said Mamun.

The Titas MD also said the government earlier declared that no new gas connections will be given outside the economic zones.

When asked about challenges in providing new connections, he said “In some areas, Titas does not have enough pipelines to connect to the industry. In such cases, we build new pipeline alone or jointly do it with the applicants”.

Syed Ahmed Majumdar, Managing Director of Karnaphuli Gas Distribution Company, said they did not have any limitations in providing gas to new applications.  “We are giving gas connections to industry and others, which means from our side we don’t have any limitation. But in some cases, we see the applicant is not ready to get the connection. So, we can’t play any role in such situations.”  Managing Director of Bakhrabad Gas Distribution Company told The Independent that providing connections to the industrial units is an ongoing process.

“I myself provided a few connections to industries” he said. The official, however, could not specifically mention the number of connections provided in recent time.

In 2017, after a five-year interlude, the government provided gas connections to 250 industrial units. Earlier, on the wake of the discovery of two trillion cubic feet of gas in Bhola, the government announced to give gas connections to 2,000 industrial units.

Industry experts termed that government declaration a great leap forward which they said would bolster local industry, create jobs and increase the productivity of the nation in general.

At present, Petrobangla supplies about 3,200 MMCF of gas a day. Over 48 percent of the total gas produced is now being used for generating electricity while some 15 percent is used in CNG and fertilizer factories. The gas that was supposed to be used in industries, are being used in other sectors, said people in the manufacturing sector.

A large number of RMG factories, mostly located in shared buildings, are also in need of new connections as they are not able to relocate their units to newer places due to the lack of gas connections. Around 2,500 industrial units earlier applied for gas connection in the last three to five years. However, State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid, on multiple occasions, said the government wanted to give new gas connections inside the economic zones to boost the economic growth in a planned way.  A ministry order last year said that new gas connections to CNG stations should be withheld, as autogas had appeared as a good alternative to CNG and hence there was no need for CNG as vehicle fuel.

As for not giving any new connections to households, the order said the availability of LPG had become widespread across the country and the price of LPG has been reduced, as such, there is no need for new gas connections to households.

When contacted by The Independent, Dhaka Chambers of Commerce and Industry President Shams Mahmud said he could not make an official statement from his chamber on the matter of giving new gas connections to industries. But he lauded the government initiative of laying out new gas connections nonetheless.

“It’s good to see that new gas connections are given, even if at a slow pace. It will definitely work to boost the local industries,” he said.

Of the 3,185 mmcf gas per day supplied by Petrobangla, Titas, as the largest distribution company, gets 1,654 mmcf per day, Bahkrabad gets 404 mmcf per day, Karnaphuli 329 mmcf per day, Jalalabad Distribution Company 336 mmcf per day, Pashchimanchal Gas Distribution Company gets 207 mmcf per day and Sundarban Gas Distribution Company gets 47 mmcf per day.

SHK

 

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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.

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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