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Gas well drilling begins in Bhola’s Shahbazpur

Published : 19 Aug 2022 10:11 PM

Amid questions on cost and work quality, Gazprom EP International has started drilling of Tobgi-1 well of Shahbazpur gas field in Bhola district.

Mohammad Mahbub Hossain, Senior Secretary of Energy and Mineral Resources Division on Friday inaugurated the drilling work.

Chairman of Petrobangla, Nazmul Ahsan was present as a special guest on the occasion. Mohammad Ali, managing director of Bangladesh Petroleum Exploration and Production Company (Bapex) presided over the event while Bapex and Gazprom officials from different levels were also present.

Petrobangla Chairman said, “It will drill the well to a depth of about 3,500 meters. We expected that 20 to 25 million cubic feet of gas per day will be produced from the well.”

Bapex officials said the development and gas exploration from the wells will be completed by December this year. This is a part of a government initiative to hike domestic production in the face of a volatile global LNG market.

Gazprom will drill three wells in Bhola at a cost of about Tk 600 crore. Experts say that Gazprom’s price is more than twice as much as the price of state-owned company Bapex. Gazprom got the job without a tender.

Petrobangla believes that exploration and development well drilling by Gazprom will play a major role in combating the current energy crisis. Petrobangla says that there are huge gas reserves in Bhola. Exploration has bright prospects for more gas. 

But according to experts, Bapex discovered the Bhola gas field. 

Energy expert Professor M Shamsul Alam alleged that Gazprom was given the job at a higher cost than the state company Bapex. He said that there was no competition as this work was given without tender under the Special Energy Supply Act. The maximum cost of BAPEX for drilling such wells is taka 85 crores, whereas Gazprom is being paid around Tk 200 crore ($2.12 million) per well.

In the last 11 years, Gazprom has drilled 17 wells in Bangladesh, including exploration and development. The contract value of the first 10 of these was around $ 19.30 crore. That is, the company took a little more than $1.9 crore for each well. The next 7 wells drilled by Gazprom each had a contract price of just over $60 lakh. Although Gazprom digs at higher prices, the experience of getting gas from these wells is not pleasant.

A number of Petrobangla officials and experts questioned awarding the work to Gazprom, as they said performance of the company was disappointing in previous projects.

Sources at Petrobangla said that Gazprom EP International claims it as a concern of Russian state-owned Gazprom, which is one of the leading gas producers in the world.

But the Gazprom EP International actually conducted previous drilling and exploration after hiring Uzbekistan-based Eriell Corporation.

The Island district of Bhola is considered to be one of the most promising sources of energy for Bangladesh. The Bhola gas field is situated in the Bengal Basin. Gas found in its geological structure is called stratigraphic. All other gas fields in the country have been discovered in the Surma Basin.

Bhola’s two gas fields contain about two trillion cubic feet of gas reserves, which experts believe will increase further.

In 2009, BAPEX started extracting gas from Bhola’s Shahbazpur gas field. Currently, gas is being supplied from this field to two power plants (225 and 35 MW) in Bhola and also to local industrial and residential areas.

At present, 50 million cubic feet of gas is being supplied to the national grid daily from 4 wells of this gas field. Another gas field named Bhola North has been discovered there.