The gas crisis in Bangladesh is shifting to an alarming stage. Electricity load shedding is now a chronic malaise in the power system. The gas shortage has already caused shutting down of several industries, many CNG stations cannot operate most of the time of the day due to low pressure. Now even domestic consumers are complaining regularly against low pressure. People of Narayanganj, Kernigan, and Gazipur have already started agitation against the gas shortages.
Its an enigma why the gas situation has become so hopeless in recent times. Three gas intensive fertilizer plants have remained closed. The gas production of the country has increased at least 100MMCFD. So from last year about 200MMCFD additional gas is available to consumers (considering 100MMCFD savings from the three plants). So something is definitely wrong somewhere.
Lack of proper co-ordination, absence of proper homework etc. appear to hinder the government’s plan to increase power generation, which was an election pledge. Supply of fuel – Natural Gas as required now seems to be the major impediment. The government had a plan to add about 1000MW new power to national grid by December 2009 to reduced huge deficit. But deteriorating gas supply situation and inadequate efforts to confront that problem appears to frustrate the government plan. Petrobangla has already informed PDB of its inability to commit gas supply to new plants.
The government’s vision to add 1000MW new power in its first year in office has already fallen flat because of delays in establishment of already commissioned power plants. Gas supply shortage is also impeding planned power generation in the month of Ramadan. The massive drum beating of generating @4200MW in the evening peak hours from 7PM -12PM is not working at all. Petrobangla is required to supply @ 777.2MMCFH gas over this period for plants to grid supply and another 35MMCFH for non grid plants. But the actual supply is 685MMCFH.
There is very little that can be done soon to increase gas production significantly or set up required gas transmission infrastructures. But definitely operational efficiency of national gas grid can be improved.
The efforts to evacuate more and more gas through already supersaturated system will add new crisis of low pressure. This situation could be managed if the planned Pipeline compressors were up and running now. The government must instruct GTCL to undertake pigging of pipelines in N-S corridor and A-B Pipeline before December 2009. This will definitely improve pressure profile significantly. On-stream pigging is not rocket science. We did it few times. GTCL has experienced persons. It only needs one brave leader to do it.
Kh. A. Saleque (Saleque Sufi) is the ex-Director ( Operation) GTCL and writes from Australia.
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