Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) likely to hold a public hearing from March 21 to 24 on a government proposal to raise the price of natural gas, officials said.
A BERC official said, "We have set a date for a four-day public hearing for adjusting gas price on the basis of proposals of gas distribution and transmission companies. The final public notice will be published soon.”
Six state-owned gas distribution companies of the country have submitted proposals to BERC last month seeking a 117 percent increase of prices of natural gas. At the same time, a proposal has been submitted to increase the wheeling charge of gas transmission company GTCL.
Energy sector officials argued that gas prices need to be increased to meet the shortage of funds required to import liquefied natural gas (LNG). However, the Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) has described the proposed increase in gas prices as irrational and unprecedented.
Experts say the country should give more priority to domestic oil and gas exploration to lessen the dependence on imported LNG, but the issue has long been neglected.
The last gas tariff was announced in July 2019, when the BERC increased the bulk gas price by 32.8 percent to Tk9.80 per cubic feet from Tk7.38.
The latest gas price hike move has come after the government enhanced diesel, kerosene and liquefied petroleum gas prices just two months ago.
A BERC Member told Bangladesh Post that gas distribution companies argued that the price needs to increase due to increases in LNG price in the international market, which is unreasonable. Because, currently about 2300 million cubic feet of gas is produced from domestic filed, which has not increased any cost.
The remaining 725 million cubic feet of gas is suppling from imported LNG. Out of these, the price was fixed for about 600 million cubic feet of gas for 10 years under a long-term contract. Only 100 to 125 million cubic feet of gas is being bought from the LNG spot market.
It has been proposed to raise the price of gas for double burner stove to Tk 2100 from Tk 975, and to Tk 2,000 from Tk 925 for a single burner for household gas users.
According to official sources, the distribution companies proposed to raise gas tariff for pre-paid meter users in residences to Tk 27.37 from Tk 12.60 per cubic meter. Besides, the tariff for CNG proposed to raise to Tk 76.04 from Tk 35, and to Tk 49.97 from Tk 23 per cubic meter for hotel and restaurant.
The gas prices for small and cottage industries to Tk 37.02 from Tk17.04, to Tk23.24 from Tk10.70 in industry, to Tk 30.09 from Tk 13.85 in captive power, to Tk9.67 from Tk4.45 in power generation and fertilizer factories, to Tk 23.24 from Tk10.7 for tea garden have also been proposed to raise, official confirmed.