There are a total of 28 gas fields in the country at the moment. Bangladesh Gas Field Company Limited (BGFCL) is producing gas from Titas in Brahmanbaria, one of the four biggest gas fields in the country in terms of gas reserve.
State owned company Sylhet Gas Field Limited (SGFL) extracts gas from Kailashtilla Gas Field and Rashidpur in Habiganj. US-based multinational company Chevron produces gas from the Bibiyana gas field in Habiganj. Some 75 per cent of the total gas production in the country comes from these four gas fields.
According to the sources in Bangladesh Oil, Gas & Mineral Corporation (PetroBangla) and these four companies, despite having the largest reserves of gas, the Titas gas field is lagging behind in terms of production. Production in Bibiyana gas field has multiplied despite having the lowest reserve.
According to the BGFCL, some 5,186 billion cubic feet (BCF) of gas has been extracted from the Titas gas field as of June this year. This field has been in production for the last 50 years.
It has further 2,696 BCF of gas in its reserve. A total of 27 wells have been excavated. The daily production of this gas field fluctuates between 400 million to 410 million cubic feet.
Contemporary technologies have been used in the old gas field. In contrast to that, we are using the latest technologies in Bibiyana. We are thinking about applying the latest technologies in old gas fields to increase the rate of production. We have recommended drilling more development wells to increase the production. We also have in mind that the reserve will finish rapidly with the increase in productionNazmul Ahsan, chairman of PetroBangla
Speaking to Prothom Alo on Tuesday, Nazmul Ahsan, chairman of PetroBangla, said, “Contemporary technologies have been used in the old gas field. In contrast to that, we are using the latest technologies in Bibiyana. We are thinking about applying the latest technologies in old gas fields to increase the rate of production. We have recommended drilling more development wells to increase the production. We also have in mind that the reserve will finish rapidly with the increase in production.”
Lack of well-drilling and necessary technologies
As of March this year, a total of 788 BCF gas has been produced from Kailashtilla, the second largest gas field of the country in terms of gas reserve. There is more 1,970 BCF gas in the reserve of this gas field. The daily production rate is only 68 million cubic feet. And a total of 683 BCF gas has been extracted from Rashidpur Gas Field as of March. The remaining reserve is 1,750 BCF. The daily production rate in this gas field is 44 million cubic feet.
According to the sources in SGFL, gas is being produced from eight wells in those two gas fields. The rate of production could increase further if there were five or six more wells there.
Mizanur Rahman, managing director of SGFL, told Prothom Alo on Tuesday that the work on excavation of one well would start in March next year. Production from this well would start by the middle of next year. Then seven or eight more wells would be excavated gradually within 2025 in these gas fields.
Bibiyana increases production
Despite being fourth in terms of gas reserve, the Bibiyana gas field is first in terms of production. The daily production capability of this gas field is 1,200 million cubic feet. More than 1,235 cubic feet of gas is being produced from 27 wells daily from this gas field. Half of the total gas production in the country comes from this gas field. Last year, they installed a pipe with a bigger radius to increase the production. The current reserve of this gas field is 764 BCF gas.
However, there are allegations of producing more than its capacity against the Bibiyana Gas Field. On 2 April, sands came up in the two gas processing units of the Bibiyana gas field. Production of six wells was stopped as the source of sand could not be identified. Later, they were re-launched. According to some experts, it was the result of excessive production. They had warned the authorities concerned about this at different times.
The recommendations ignored
According to people relevant to the gas sector, production would have increased if the drilling of wells had been faster. The technologies used in Bibiyana are up to the mark. The flow of gas is also quite good there. It is possible to increase production by using these sorts of technologies.
Again, problems may surface if an attempt is made to extract more gas from the old gas fields. However, stress should be given on gas exploration and production.
According to PetroBangla, a total of 50 development wells have been drilled in 11 years from 2010 to 2021 in order to increase production. Of which, 22 wells were drilled by multinational companies. SGFL has drilled only four while BGFCL has drilled some 13 development wells.
Despite producing 2,700 million cubic feet of gas a day at one time, about 2,300 million cubic feet of gas is being produced daily now. The daily demand of gas in the country is around 3,800 million cubic feet. The production started declining after 2018.
The government leaned towards importing LNG to meet the deficit. PetroBangla now aims to increase production by 600 million cubic feet per day by drilling 48 more wells by 2025 due to rising LNG prices.
The government hired US-based multinational consultancy agency Schlumberger for increasing the production. After examining 41 development wells, they submitted a report to PetroBangla in 2011, including an outline of increasing the production by 400 million to 800 million cubic feet of gas. However, it was not implemented.
The government even cannot fully utilise the Gas Development Fund, which was formed with people’s money in 2009 for gas exploration and excavation. According to the responsible officials of the energy regulatory body, Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC), as of June 2021, a total of Tk 167.76 billion has been deposited in this fund.
PetroBangla has recently taken a temporary loan of Tk 20 billion from this fund for LNG import. A year earlier, the finance ministry had taken a loan of Tk 30 billion from this fund.
Speaking to Prothom Alo, geologist Badrul Imam said, “Right from the start, the local companies did not have any technical plan for the development of the gas fields. They kept on producing by drilling unplanned wells. They didn’t even procure latest technologies. There are technical weaknesses in national gas production. Although the government hired foreign consultancy agencies, PetroBangla did not follow their recommendations. The incompetence and negligence of the energy division are responsible for this.”
*This report appeared on the print and online versions of Prothom Alo and has been re-written in English by Ashish Basu