POST TIME: 10 February, 2017 00:00 00 AM
Severe gas crisis cripples port city

Severe gas crisis cripples port city

Failing to light their gas stoves due to the acute low pressure of supply gas, two women start cooking on traditional stoves burning woods in Baklia DC Road area of Chittagong yesterday. Independent Photo

Severe gas crisis has taken a heavy toll on the 602,074 consumers in the port city Chittagong, including 1,100 industries and 597,983 domestic consumers. Not only household tasks, industrial production and supply of gas to fuel stations have also been disrupted. The supply of gas from the national grid to the Karnaphuli Gas Distribution Co. Ltd (KGDCL) has currently been reduced by at least 40–60 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd), sparking the crisis. Usually, KGDCL can supply only around 250–260 mmcfd of gas against the demand for around 500–550 mmcfd of gas.
Currently, the supply has come down to 200-230 mmcfd due to the dip in the supply from the national grid, said Anupam Dutta, customer relationship manager of KGDCL.
“To tackle the problem, we've stopped the supply of 32 mmcfd gas to the Raozan Gas Thermal Power Plant from January 31. But, the situation has worsened owing to the dip in the supply from the national grid since last Saturday,” he added. Many domestic consumers of the city are not getting any supply the entire day. Many are getting it for two to five fours daily, but only with a low pressure. In the last couple of days, some people have been forced to go without gas from early morning to 5pm. They were forced to buy food from shops.
Anupam Shil, a resident of Khulshi, said: “On Wednesday night, we had to eat bread only as nothing could be cooked due to the shortage of gas. From early morning to evening, we've no gas supply. We're being forced to order food from restaurants.”
Rifat Ara, a resident of Hill View, said: “We usually get gas supply for two or three hours daily. We're now facing a tough time without gas. Most of the time, there is no supply during the day.”
From 11am to 1pm yesterday, there were long queues of vehicles at the CNG filling stations. The vehicles were seen standing in the queue for hours as they could not fill their cylinders because of the low pressure of gas.
“We've to spend at least three to five hours to fill our cylinders. After waiting for four hours, I have been fortunate to get enough gas,” said Md Monir, a CNG-run auto rickshaw driver, at the CNG filling station at the Railway Playground area.
Another auto rickshaw driver, Nur Alam, said he could not even reach a station in Sholoshahr area after waiting for an hour in the queue.
Mahbubul Alam, president of the Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industries, alleged that production in many industrial units is being hampered due to the poor supply of gas.
Over the last six years, the port city has been facing a severe gas crisis after a massive drop in supply with the suspension of the Sangu gas field in 2013. From 2002 to 2005, the gas field supplied around 220 mmcfd to the grid, and 180 mmcfd from 2005 to 2010.
The drastic fall in supply from the Semutang gas field—from 25 mmcfd to 5.6 mmcfd— deepened the crisis.
The KGDCL authorities are facing a tough time dealing with the shortage.
The gas line from Ashuganj to Chittagong is now 24 feet wide. It cannot supply more than 220 mmcfd. But it should ideally be 34 feet to increase the gas pressure.
To solve the crisis, the authorities have planned any one of two projects: constructing a new line with the national grid, or setting up an LNG terminal at Moheshkhali Island in the Bay of Bengal.
Considering the time and cost, the government has decided to set up the LNG terminal. The terminal can meet the country’s current gas shortfall of 500 mmcfd. But its construction, which is estimated to take five years, is yet to begin.
However, the KDCL authorities do not have any short-term plan to tackle the crisis, which is getting more severe by the day.
The exiting line with the national grid was built in 1980. It took about four years to build the line, which can supply 220 mmcfd of gas. To meet the demand of 500 mmcfd, a new line will have to be built at a huge cost. Otherwise, the old one has to be replaced with a new line. This will take at least eight years, said KGDCL sources.