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New era of fuel oil release thru pipeline

Published : 03 Jul 2023 10:21 PM | Updated : 04 Jul 2023 12:31 PM

Bangladesh has entered the era of pipeline oil release from the deep Bay of Bengal by starting the trial release programme of 82 thousand metric tons of crude oil brought from Saudi Arabia.

The process of releasing oil from the pipeline began on Monday morning.

Chairman of Chattogram Port Authority, Rear Admiral Mohammad Sohail said, Bangladesh has entered the era of releasing oil from the deep sea through pipelines, surpassing many developed countries.  The trial release of 82 thousand metric tons of crude oil brought from Saudi Arabia has started in the deep Bay of Bengal.  This oil will come to Chattogram's Eastern Refinery through a 116 km long pipeline.  Due to this 8000 crore taka project, the oil clearance system will reduce the loss and cost as well as reduce the time from 25 days to just 2 days.

Eastern Refinery, the only state-owned company in the country, is capable of refining 15 lakh tonnes of crude oil per year.  The Single Point Mooring with Double Pipeline (SPM) project is the second unit of the institute.  When it becomes operational, the refining capacity will increase to 45 lakh tonnes.

Through this project, in the first phase, an about 16 km pipeline from the deep sea will take oil from the ships anchored in the sea to the storage tank at Maheshkhali.  After commissioning of the pipeline, hedges, circuit valves will be tested.  After that, pipeline commissioning will be done from storage to the Eastern Refinery at Patenga in Chattogram.  Commissioning of the pipeline will be done first for crude oil and later for diesel.

Earlier in 2015, the pipeline laying project was taken up.  The project was scheduled to be completed by December 2018 at a total cost of Tk 4,935 crore 97 lakh.  The duration of the project has already been extended thrice.  But the expenditure has increased to Tk 7,125 crore.  Of this, the Chinese government is providing loan assistance of Tk 4,688 crore.  The cost may increase a little due to other reasons including the increase in the value of the dollar.

Besides, BPC is giving 1 thousand 835 crore taka and Bangladesh government is giving 601 crore taka for the implementation of this project.  Under the project, one set of SPM-PLEM, one floating buoy, 146 km of pipeline of 220 km through seabed and 74 km of pipeline through shore, six storage tanks of 2 lakh 88 thousand cubic meters, three block valve stations are being constructed.

 According to the project documents, a single point mooring (SPM) has been set up in the Bay of Bengal six kilometers west of the coast at Kalamarchhara union in Maheshkhali.  Unloading of crude oil and diesel will be done from SPM through two separate pipelines of 36 inch diameter.  The pipeline will first be brought to the CSTF or Pump Station and Tank Farm in Kalmar through a 16 km route.  From there, the oil will go to the sea coast of Anwara upazila through various pumps through a 74 km pipeline.  From there, the oil will be transported to the Eastern Refinery at Patenga through a 36 km pipeline.

Eastern Refinery MD Lokman Hossain said these pipelines have a capacity of 20 thousand tons.  From SPM to Maheshkhali where the pump will be, a storage capacity of 2 lakh tonnes has been constructed.  Of this crude oil will be 1 lakh 25 thousand tons.  The remaining 75 thousand tons will be diesel or refined oil.  This means that the storage capacity of oil in the country has also increased through this pipeline project.  Currently the Eastern Refinery has a storage capacity of 5 lakh tonnes.  Out of this crude oil storage capacity is 2 lakh 25 thousand tons.  The rest is storage for refined oil.

 According to ERL data, the country currently imports more than 60 lakh tonnes of fuel oil by sea.  Apart from this, private power plants require about 1 crore tonnes of oil including furnace oil.  Due to the existing infrastructure limitations of Chattogram Port and the low navigability of the Karnaphuli river channel, it is not possible to discharge the mother oil tankers directly.

 As a result, these tankers are anchored in the deep sea and discharge crude oil through small lighterage vessels.  It took 11 days to unload a 100,000 DWT tanker.  As this method is time consuming, risky and expensive, the pipeline laying project (single point mooring) was taken up in 2015 to shift the HSD.

It is known that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is scheduled to formally inaugurate the SPM project in August this year.  

At present, the country's only state-owned oil refinery, the Eastern Refinery, can refine 15 lakh tonnes of crude oil per year.  The commissioning of its second unit will increase the refining capacity by 30 lakh to 45 lakh tonnes.  As a result, fuel oil storage and storage capacity and security of supply will increase.

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