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Gas crisis to over by March

Published : 31 Jan 2022 10:33 PM | Updated : 31 Jan 2022 10:33 PM

The ongoing crisis of gas in the country against an estimated production capacity of about 375 crore cubic feet per day, is expected to be overcome by March next.

The nation has a total demand of about 420 crore cubic feet of gas per day. The total production capacity in the country is about 375 crore cubic feet of gas per day. 

However, currently, Petrobangla is supplying about 275 crore cubic feet of gas per day. Of the total shortage of about 150 crore cubic feet of gas per day, around 60 cr cubic feet of gas can be supplied by March, Petrobangla officials said. 

The ongoing gas crisis, nevertheless, will be overcome next March depending on Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) price in the world market, Petrobangla hopes. A bulk of the gas is imported as LNG and the price fluctuation in the global market is very important.

Production in industries and power plants is being hampered due to the acute crisis of natural gas. Other consumers like fertilizer factories, CNG stations, residential and other sectors in the country are also suffering from a gas supply crisis. 

The Energy Division is not capable of handling the situation despite gas rationing in different sectors including CNG stations.

According to Bangladesh Oil, Gas & Mineral Corporation (Petrobangla), around 50 crore cubic feet of imported Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) supply stopped for a fault in the Summit’s Floating Storage Regasification Unit (FSRU) since the beginning of December. 

Meanwhile, domestic gas production has also declined as Chevron, a US multinational company, has recently started renovation at Bibiana, the largest gas filed in the country.  As a result, the gas supply has decreased by about 60 crore cubic feet per day. 

Contact, Mohammad Mahbub Hossain, an official of Bangladesh Oil, Gas & Mineral Corporation (Petrobangla) told Bangladesh Post that the daily supply of 20 million cubic feet of gas from Bibiyana gas field has increased since Sunday after completing its maintenance. On the other hand, the mooring line at the Summit terminal is being repaired, which was damaged. Earlier, the Summit had informed in writing that it would be launched by February 8. However, now they say they can finish their repair works by February 12.

“Because some of the deep-sea divers who need to work underwater are infected with covid-19 an alternative team has been called in. They will start work on February 2. Then it will take at least 10 days. Hopefully, by February 12 the gas crisis will be normalized after completion of the work,” he added.

In response to a question, Mahbub Hossain said that although the price of LNG has increased in the world market, alternative plans have been made considering the country’s gas demand. Under the long-term agreement, 850 million cubic feet of RLNG is to be imported, but we have a plan to import at least 800 million cubic feet of RLNG. If it is not possible under the long-term agreement, it is being considered to import it from the spot market. However, the price of LNG usually goes down a bit in March-April. Hopefully, the gas crisis will ease a lot from March.’

Earlier, Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company Limited, the largest gas distribution company, warned consumers that due to technical reasons, low gas pressure will prevail in Dhaka and surrounding areas from January 12 to 21. However, the gas crisis is still going on. 

Petrobangla says that the daily gas demand in the country is about 420 crore cubic feet. Even a few months ago, 320 to 330 crore cubic feet of gas were supplied. Now 270 to 275 crore cubic feet of gas is being supplied per day instead of 320 to 330 crore cubic feet of gas supply per day a few months back.

Energy and Mineral Resources division official said that the country has a capacity to supply 100 crore cubic feet of LNG per day through two floating terminals (FSRUs) anchored in the deep sea at Maheshkhali. On November 18, the mooring line at the Summit terminal was damaged. 

Mooring is a permanent structure where a ship is anchored. Summit provided supply up to 10 days of LNG stored in the terminal. Since then the supply has stopped. Due to the closure of this terminal, the capacity to supply 50 crore cubic feet of LNG per day has decreased. The other terminal is currently supplying 42 to 45 crore cubic feet per day.

Meanwhile, production from the country's gas fields has been declining for several years. Once it produced 270 crore cubic feet of gas, but now its production capacity is about 230 crore cubic feet. Chevron can produce about 151 crore cubic feet of gas a day from its three gas fields. Now 141 crore cubic feet of gas is being produced daily from there. 

Professor M Shamsul Alam, Energy Advisor of the Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB), said, "LNG imports have been made compulsory to provide special facility to some group by creating a gas crisis. The country should give priority to domestic oil and gas exploration to lessen the dependence on imported LNG, but the issue has long been neglected.” 

Currently, a total of 27 power plants having a capacity of more than 4,000MW of electricity are shut down due to the gas crisis. Besides, Urea Fertilizer Factory Limited is also shut down due to a gas shortage.

The situation in the industry is almost the same. Many owners are considering closing the factory due to inadequate gas supply. 

The gas crisis has resulted in large production loss and halt of production, deterioration of product quality and loss of expensive machinery have taken place.

According to Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA), the textile sector has been suffering from a gas crisis for three months. An average of 25 per cent production is being disrupted in almost every factory. The traders will have to count the loss of $175 crore or taka 15 thousand crore. They demanded an uninterrupted supply of gas to keep the production normal in the factories.

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