Govt to import LNG soon


Anisul Islam Noor :
The government has initiated to import Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) within a short time spending an additional Tk 10,000 crore as the domestic gas reserve is drying faster than the previous guess on gas reserve and domestic demand, official source said.
Though experts and consumer rights activists called this import unnecessary, the government high-ups are determined to spend the additional Tk 10,000 crore for quick import of LNG by hiring small vessels instead of the mother vessel, they added.
However, energy expert and former adviser of the caretaker government M Tamim said, the country's dependency on imported LNG will expose the national economy to fluctuation in the international market. He advocated for exploration of oil and gas to solve energy crisis.
The quick import will be made under the purview of 'Speedy Supply of Power and Energy Act" which gave legal coverage to expensive quick rental power plants.
Its precondition is that gas to be transformed from imported LNG must be supplied within six months of signing the agreement for the purpose.    The government has already chosen two companies-Accelerate Energy of the US and local company Summit Group-for implementing the two major projects for importing LNG in bulk. The US company is supposed to bring in 500 million cubic feet of gas by next April and Summit another 500 million cubic feet by October-November 2018.
For unloading the LNG, Chittagong Urea Fertiliser Factory, Karnaphuli Fertiliser Factory and platform of Sangu gas field will be used. The two factories will also be supplied with this gas for their production.
Officials concerned said this 1000mmcf gas will be added to the national gas production of 2776mmcf gas. Current gas supply shortfall is estimated at around one billion cubic feet. Once the imported LNG is supplied, the price of gas will increase three-fold from Tk 8 per unit to Tk 27 per unit.
"This will leave a devastating impact on public life and national economy," said adviser to the Consumer Association of Bangladesh M Shamsul Alam.
As per Petrobangla projection, country's gas production may start falling in 2019. Production at Bibiyana gas field will also start depletion from the same year. The gas field is now producing 1250mmcfd of gas daily.
The government will start importing LNG from April 2018. Chevron produces more than 55 per cent of the country's gas. According to the data on the Petrobangla website, the country's 22 gas fields produce 2,676 mmcf of gas per day, of which the three fields operated by Chevron produce 1,544 mmcf per day. The government has a target to drill 108 wells by five years. Prof M Tamim said the government raised gas production target to allow the foreign companies like Gazprom for drilling wells at higher rate. He also stressed that the government should allow drilling of wells through international companies in competitive bidding process scrapping unsolicited deals.    
The Petrobangla is now rationing gas supply at consumers' level due to shortfall in supply of gas production.