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Be aware that gas is running out

18 November 2022

Syed Faruk Hossain :
Bangladesh is now suffering from acute gas crisis. This crisis has taken a dire shape affecting all sectors of the country including factories, CNG stations, hotels-restaurants, power plants etc. Industrial production is being disrupted. The entrepreneurs of the garment sector, the backbone of the country's export income, said that the production in this sector has decreased by 20-30 percent due to the gas crisis.  However, the government has planned to increase both domestic production and imports of gas.
Depending on the amount of gas discovered, there are basically three types of reserves calculated --- proved reserves, recoverable reserves and probable reserves. According to the information given on the website of Petro Bangla in July 2022, the total amount of proven, recoverable and potential reserves in the country is 30.13 TCF. Out of the 28 TCF gas discovered, the amount of natural gas used so far is more than 19 and a half TCF. According to Petro Bangla's daily gas production report on October 30, Bangladesh currently has a total of 70 wells in 28 gas fields, of which 69 wells are producing gas. Among them, domestic companies Bapex, Bangladesh Gas Fields Company Ltd (BGFCL) and Sylhet Gas Fields Ltd (SGFL) are extracting gas. Apart from this, two multinational oil companies or IOC Chevron and Tallo are producing gas from four gas fields. However, the information given by the Ministry of External Affairs about the possibility of huge gas reserves in the Mahisopan area of the Bay of Bengal has not been included as reserves so far. Among the 28 TCF discovered, there is gas discovered in 1965.
Illegal gas connection has become an epidemic in the country. Day by day, the number of illegal gas users is increasing.
In most areas of Dhaka, there is no gas pressure in residential lines for most of the daytime. The city dwellers have to suffer a lot in cooking. They are becoming furious for not getting gas supply as needed despite paying bills regularly. Besides, several gas-based power plants have been closed. So load-shedding occurs frequently for an average of 6 to 8 hours across the country due to shortage in electricity production.
Winter is approaching. The gas shortage is severe in the capital and the surrounding areas in winter. Although the gas pressure increases a little in the middle of night, it decreases dramatically within a few hours. Some people are using cylinder gas for cooking finding no other means. It is also seen that wood is used in some areas. However, customers have to pay the gas bill of the line even if they do the cooking in an alternative way.
On the other hand, electricity production has gradually become dependent on imported liquid fuel. A huge amount of foreign currency is being spent on it. As natural gas reserves decrease, dependence on natural gas for power generation is decreasing. LNG import is increasing. At the same time, it should be observed that any kind of irregularity, corruption and mismanagement should not be created in this sector. At the same time, strong steps should be taken to find new sources of gas to alleviate the existing crisis. The gas crisis is having an adverse effect on the industrial trade and economic sectors, including the export-oriented garment industry, in addition to disruptions in civil life. Although there is no gas pressure in legal gas lines, thousands of illegal gas lines of Titus Gas Transmission and Distribution Company are running with the connivance of a group of corrupt people. The gas crisis in the country did not appear suddenly.
Discovery of new gas fields, renovation and development of old gas fields as well as cutting illegal gas connections is particularly very important. The number of illegal gas connections in Titas will not be less than legal connections. This is a terrible incident. Thus the largest state autonomous gas-company is incurring losses of hundreds of crores of taka despite increasing the price continuously. But the company and the government are being deprived of revenue due to illegal connections.
Natural gas is our most precious resource. It is true that the people of a country have rights over its natural resources. But there should not be a mentality that I will do whatever I wish with my natural resources. If no new gas fields are discovered, and no additional gas is extracted from those discovered, then Bangladesh will move hurry towards an uncertain future of running out of natural gas reserves within the next 10 years. If no major gas field is discovered in the country within the next few years, then the growth and productivity of various industries will be severely affected. We all need to be aware of gas consumption and prevent its misuse. So many of our entire industrial infrastructure is dependent on gas. Therefore, if there is a sudden crisis in gas supply, it may cause a great disaster in the economy.

(The writer is Registrar, Bangamata Sheikh Fojilatunnesa Mujib Science & Technology).

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