Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission’s (BERC) member Mokbul E Elahi told Prothom Alo the GDF was set up by public money and consent of BERC is required for diverting its fund. The commission, however, does not know about the loan approved for importing LNG.

BERC on 30 July 2009, collected the fund for GDF by increasing gas tariff by over 11 per cent. The fund was effective from 1 August that year. The price of gas was hiked by 38.2 per cent at consumer level on 30 June 2019. The authorities ordered a portion of the hiked price (Tk 0.46 per cubic meter) be given to the GDF.

The energy ministry on 1 February 2012 published the gas development fund regulation.

According to regulations, the Petrobangla would open a bank account for the fund and it would disburse the fund for exploration, production, development and distribution projects by local companies based on priority.

If the projects with allocation from the funds are deemed profitable, the allocation will have to be paid back with interests. However, the allocation for the projects which are not profitable would be treated as donation.

According to BERC’s annual report (2020-21), a total of Tk 167.76 billion has been collected for the fund as of June 2021. The fund was used for 35 projects of purchasing equipment and conducting exploration. 30 projects were completed and 5 were on going.

The local gas wells supply 2.3 billion cubic feet gas every day, which 2.7 billion cft just around two years ago. The government would import 850 million cft LNG several months ago. Of the amount 500 cft comes from Qatar and Oman under long term agreements. The rest of 350 million cft used to be bought from the spot market. The government had to stop buying LNG from the spot market after unprecedented hike of the LNG in international market. Meanwhile, BERC has once again increased the price of gas in June.

Power, energy and mineral resources ministry sources said the power division on 4 July sent a letter to the finance division to provide Tk 20 billion from GDF to Petrobangla as loan. The Petrobangla in 2021 provided the finance division Tk 30 billion from the GDF as surplus.

Consumers Association of Bangladesh’s (CAB) senior vice president and energy advisor M Shamsul Alam told Prothom Alo that the consumers do not deem such a practice as legal.

The GDF was set up to decrease the supply cost but now money is being diverted from the fund in name of loan to import gas in an inflated price.

He alleged that the energy division has become desperate for money disregarding right or wrong.

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