Just as there’s no way of transporting this gas outside of the district, its utilisation as per the extraction capacity couldn’t be ensured inside the district either. It is indeed a suicidal decision to buy fuel oil from abroad at a higher price leaving aside local gas resources.
According to Petrobangla’s narrative, Bhola’s Shabazpur gas field has a daily extraction capacity of 150 million cubic feet. But, maximum 65 milliion cubic feet of that gas is being utilised. Gas isn’t being extracted from this gas field for the lack of demand.
No initiative was taken to extract gas from Bhola North gas field for about four years following its discovery. Since the beginning, a unit capable of processing 70 million cubic feet of gas has been working at Shahbazpur gas field. Later, a unit of 20 million cubic feet was set up temporarily.
In 1995, Bangladesh Petroleum Exploration and Production Company (BAPEX) discovered Shahbazpur gas field in Borhanuddin upazila of Bhola. The same agency discovered Bhola’s second gas field, Bhola North in 2018. Gas extraction from Shabazpur started in 2009 while extraction from Bhola North hasn’t begun yet.
When there’s an energy crisis going on in the country and power cannot be supplied to the industries properly, then what can be the reason behind gas lying underground in Bhola? There’s only one reason, providing extra facilities to a certain group by making the energy sector completely import-dependent.
Experts had long advised supplying gas through pipelines from Bhola to other parts of the country, especially to Barishal and Khulna regions. The government policy makers had expressed their doubts over its potential then. When there’s an abundance of gas in Bhola, what can be logic for not trying to supply gas in the pipelines?
Though lately, the authorities have come to their senses. According to newspaper reports, Petrobangla is already in talks with an American company on this issue.
To utilise full capacity of the gas fields in Bhola, there's no alternative to setting up more power plants there and supplying the power outside of the district through transmission lines. In addition, exploration for newer gas fields on shore and offshore have to be continued.
If gas supply to Barishal and Khulna can be ensured, the economy there will also be accelerated while newer industries will establish as well. The government’s wrong decisions have caused enough damage to the energy sector already. So that the damage doesn’t increase any further, utilise Bhola’s gas now.