There must be alternate gas supply system

EditorialProthom Alo illustration

Since cyclone Mocha grew weaker before making landfall at the coast, there has been comparatively less damage in Bangladesh. It’s relieving.

However, there’s enough reason to be worried if the issue of communication, trade and commerce is taken into consideration.

What we need to learn from this cyclone is that, there can be a major catastrophe, if there’s no alternative system to supply power and gas, the driving force of people’s daily life and the economy.

Because of cyclone mocha, supply of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) was completely cut off from 11pm last Friday as a precaution. One of the two floating terminals anchored at Maheshkhali was moved to deep sea.

Imported LNG is regasified through these terminals and then supplied to the pipeline. The production of electricity has also gone down for the gas supply being suspended from there.

As a result of this, daily life in Chattgram fell into a crisis as well as the production in industries also declined. As there was no gas at the stations, only a few vehicles took to the streets causing sufferings to the passengers.

For the gas supply to households remaining closed, stoves in many homes didn’t light up; some people did the cooking on electric stoves. Many ate foods bought from shops. Problems arose even in delivering foods to hospital patients due to the lack of electricity.

Till this editorial being written yesterday, one of the two floating terminals of Maheshkhali had been reactivated. Though gas supply in Chattogram resumed with that, the pressure was low. Both Chattogram’s Raozan and Shikolbaha power stations are also dependent on gas.

Prior to importing LNG, up to 230 million cubic feet of gas were used to be supplied in Chattogram every day from the gas fields of Sylhet, Cumilla and Feni regions through the Ashuganj-Bakhrabad pipelines.

Later on, arrangements were made to unload the imported LNG at the floating terminals of Maheshkhali and supply it to the national grid after transporting it through the 92-kilometre pipeline up to Anwara.

This system is applied in Ashuganj-Bakhrabad gas supply lines of the national grid. At Maheshkhali, it is arranged to unload 500 to 700 million cubic feet of LNG every day and include it on the national grid.

From that leaving out Chattogram’s required 250 to 300 million cubic foot of gas, the rest is taken to the national grid.

BGMEA’s first vice president Mohammad Nazrul Islam in a statement expressing concern over the complete suspension of gas supply in Chattogram said that LNG supply may be stopped due to the impact of cyclone Mocha.

But not even a little amount of gas reaching Chattogram from the National Grid, cannot happen. It’s essential to have at least some gas supply in Chattogram during disasters, even if it takes rationing for that.

The BGMEA leader spoke the mind of the city residents. Gas supply to the second largest city of the country cannot remain closed under any circumstances. An alternative supply system must be there.

Mocha didn’t disrupt daily life in Chattogram alone; there was a huge shortage of power and gas supply also in other parts of the country including the capital.

We believe it’s high time to take sustainable and effective steps to keep emergency services running during this sort of disasters.