Gas crisis: A search for domestic sources essential

It is well known that gas supply remains less during winter due to technical reasons. But the way people’s lives were disrupted and the production at industries disrupted due to the gas crisis in Chattogram region recently, it was beyond imagination. Current supply of gas has come down to less than 2.5 billion cubic feet daily against the demand of 3.8 billion cubic feet in Bangladesh. On the other hand, daily LNG demand is 800 million cubic feet but only 600 million cubic feet is being supplied.

There are two floating terminals in Maheshkhali for converting imported LNG (Liquified Natural Gas) and supplying it to the pipeline. One of the terminals is owned by Excelerate Energy, a US-based company, and the other one is Summit’s LNG Terminal. On 1 November, the Excelerate Energy terminal was taken into the deep sea for maintenance. The terminal was commissioned on Thursday last after returning from maintenance. But it stopped again due to an error.

The gas crisis in Chattogram region took a serious turn when the gas supply from the floating LNG terminal at Maheshkhali in Cox’s Bazar was stopped due to a technical error at around 10:00 pm on Thursday. Though the supply resumed after fixing the fault at the terminal at around 10:30 pm on Friday, the situation has not yet normalised.

Gas crisis in the eastern region pervaded Chattogram, which is under jurisdiction of Karnaphuli Distribution Company (KGDCL), and Cumilla, Noakhali, Feni and Lakshmipur districts that are under Bakhrabad Gas Distribution Company. Apart from this, Narayanganj, under Titus Gas, has also been hit by this crisis. A major portion of LNG is supplied to these districts alongside the national grid.

Not only in the Chattogram region, gas supply in other parts of the country is also much less than the normal amount. As a result, many families are not able to light stoves and long queues of vehicles have appeared in front of many CNG stations. Professor and head of the Petroleum and Mining Engineering department at Chittagong University of Engineering and Technology, Sanaul Rabbi, advised to have alternative measures to prevent such disasters.

Claiming that the situation would be normal soon, State Minister for Power and Energy Nasrul Hamid asked the consumers to be patient. Even if the mechanical fault at Maheshkhali floating terminal is resolved, how could the shortage of gas and electricity in the whole country be eliminated?

Sources from the Bangladesh Oil, Gas, and Mineral Resources Corporation (Petrobangla) informed Prothom Alo that the daily demand of gas in the country is 3.8 billion cubic feet. Even with 3 billion cubic feet of supply, there would be no major crisis. But the supply of gas has come down below 2.5 billion cubic feet per day.

According to energy experts, the energy crisis in the country has intensified due to the government’s adoption of wrong policies. When oil prices were low in the international market, the government imported the oil and sold it to consumers at higher prices. Now the consumers are not getting fuel even after paying higher prices due to dollar-crisis. The businessmen also alleged in a Prothom Alo roundtable that when the price of oil was low in the international market, the government charged a high price. This was irrational.

Experts have been talking about exploring new gas fields for years but the government did not take it into consideration. Rather, they made a profit by buying the energy at a low price and selling it at a higher price to the people. In fact, the government’s policy of dependency on others has made the situation critical. Instead of relying on imports, domestic sources should be explored on an urgent basis. The longer the delay in this, the more the country’s economy and people’s lives will be at risk.