The daily demand for gas in the country is around 420 crore cubic feet, while average production is around 300 crore cubic feet including LNG.
Although there is a deficit of 120 crore cubic feet, around 45 crore cubic feet of gas is being wasted or disappearing daily. The wastage is occurring in power plants, fertilizer factories, industrial establishments, residential and commercial sectors.
Due to the shortage, fertilizer factories have to be shut down to increase gas supply for irrigation and summer power generation. But effective measures are not taken to reduce waste or disappearance.
Petrobangla sources and private researchers said that the main reason for the wastage is the ineffective machinery of the old power plants and fertilizer factories and the boiler technology of the industrial establishments. Besides, a huge amount of gas is being wasted in residential and commercial sectors.
Due to the managerial weakness and inefficiency of the gas trans mission and distribution company, 65 crore cubic meters of gas is being wasted (systems loss) every year. Gas is being wasted regularly due to illegal connections, overuse and leakage in the pipeline.
Wastage increased in the last financial year as compared to the previous year, according to the Bangladesh Oil, Gas and Mineral Resources Corporation (Petrobangla) and the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC), the regulator of the energy sector.
According to energy experts, it is possible to save huge quantity of gas losses by stopping theft.
Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company Limited (TGTDCL) supplies gas to the capital Dhaka and the surrounding areas. In the last financial year, TGTDCL wasted 32.60 crore cubic meters of gas. Bakhrabad in Cumilla area wasted more than 2 percent of its gas last year. They have lost 18 crore 52 lakh cubic meters of gas.
Gas Transmission Company Limited (GTCL), has an annual systems loss of 0.25 percent. The annual wastage of gas is 6 crore 20 lakh cubic meters.
Two of the six distribution companies- Western Gas Company Limited and Sundarbans Gas Company Limited have no wastage of gas.
TGTDCL managing director Harunur Rashid Mollah said many people are stealing gas through illegal connections. An all-out campaign is underway against such illegal use. All invalid connections will be disconnected. Leakages are being identified and repaired regularly.
Chattogram-based gas Distribution Company Karnafuli wasted 5 crore cubic meters in the last financial yearand Sylhet's gas distribution company Jalalabad's waste is 2 crore 65 lakh cubic meters.
Sources said Titas is adding the wasted gas to their systems loss. However, the quantity of wasted gas or systems loss is actually more.
The total domestic subscribers of Titas, the largest gas Distribution Company in the country were more than 28 lakh 56 thousand. Of these, only 3.20 lakh consumers have pre-paid meters. The monthly bill of taka 975 has been fixed with the estimate that each consumer will use 77.38 cubic meters of gas per month. However, it has been proved by pre-paid meter users that no customer uses more than 40 cubic meters of gas per month.
From last December to March, Titas received a bill of Tk 53.69 crore from prepaid meter customers. The average monthly income is TK 13.42 crore. At the current price of Tk 12.60 per cubic meter of gas, the monthly usage of a customer is about 34 cubic meters, which costs taka 428.
With the increase in monthly average usage, there is still a possibility for gas theft and corruption. The Consumer Association of Bangladesh (CAB) has already filed a complaint against Titas to the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) for gas theft.
Meanwhile, Titas has demanded an increase in the average usage of gas from 77 cubic meters to 100 cubic meters for a meterless residential customer in a recent public hearing on a hike in gas price. On the other hand, the technical evaluation committee formed by BERC has recommended reducing it to 60 cubic meters.
CAB says even though unaware, ordinary meterless consumers do not consume more than Tk 500 per month on average. But they have to pay Tk 975, which is almost double.
People concered said the scenario is the same for all residential customers of the country's six gas distribution companies. Out of a total of 43 lakh residential customers of six distribution companies, less than 4 lakh consumers have prepaid meters. As a result, 39 lakh consumers are paying an additional Tk 213 crore per month, which is more than Tk 2500 crore every year.
According to Power Development Board (PDB) sources, the fuel efficiency of the gas based old power plant is around 35 percent. But now the energy efficiency of advanced technology gas-fired power plants is 50 to 55 percent. If the technology of the old plant is changed, it will be possible to generate the same amount of electricity using about half of the current energy.
Another major wastage of gas is in captive power plants. In this case, the government is supplying gas at a lower price for the private based captive power plants. But the efficiency of these power plants is around 20 percent in some cases.
Gas wastage is also high in urea fertilizer factories. Karnaphuli Fertilizer Factory is a multinational company established with foreign investment. It requires 24,000 cubic feet of gas to produce per metric tonne of urea. On the other hand, the most efficient of the government factories, Jamuna Fertilizer Factory, produces one tonne of urea using 32,000 cubic feet of gas. Chattogram urea fertilizer factory takes 42,000; Ghorashal's Zia and Palash fertilizer factories require 43,000 and 49,000 cubic feet, respectively. Ashuganj fertilizer factory takes 73 thousand cubic feet of gas.