Chaotic Energy Situtaion in the Offing



E-Bangladesh is a News/Headlines service and a group blog aimed at bringing the news and analysis from Bangladesh to its readers.

Photo: Bangladesh Power development board (PDB) has been installed wind power project at Kutubdia near to Bay of Bengal with cost of TK. 9.5 crores. At least 1,000 consumers have been under taken this power supply project. Kutubdia, Bangladesh. June 09 Mohammad Islam, Coxs Bazar.DrikEWS.

On June 23, 2009 in the Energy related round table conference at CIRDAP Auditorium, Dhaka, we made several recommendations to confront prevailing and emerging energy crisis. The round table was attended by the Energy Advisor of Prime Minister, current State Minister of Energy, some leading Parliamentarians, current Chairman of Petrobangla, Current and Past FBCCI presidents, and many other authoritative figures of the sector. We discussed issues relevant to energy crisis, gas crunch and discussed various issues and options. It was the 7th year of launching of Energy & Power news magazine. In June 2009, Bangladesh was in the grip of serious energy crisis. People were greatly suffering but still had sympathy for newly installed Coalition government and were optimistic that pro-liberation pro-people government would do its best to redress the situation.

Almost a year is gone after that. Another irrigation season has just started and summer is about to set in. Our Dhaka friends and relatives are complaining that gas supply situation has, in fact, worsened; 3-4 hours of power load-shedding has become a current occurrence and last morning media has carried news captioned “PDB fears massive outage”.

We 8 NRBs were in Bangladesh from USA, Australia and Philippines to participate in Government sponsored brain-storming on coal mining strategy. Over a period of 4 days in Jamuna Bridge Resort, we had intensive inactions with Government policy makers and resident Bangladeshi professionals on coal mining strategy. Professional coal miners from hands on mining experience suggested what needs to be done at Barapukuria under performing mine. Mine city planner, GIS experts presented relevant aspects of resettlement and rehabilitation issues. We discussed Environmental and other aspects associated with mining. We also left behind a complete set of recommendations on coal policy. One year is almost whistling away .Coal policy continues to remain in hibernation. Leaving huge domestic coal resource underground vested quarter is conspiring to set up coal fired power plants based on imported coal.

Over the last one year no new gas field was discovered- actually there were no exploration efforts to discover any gas resource. No gas field was further developed .No action was taken to seal leakage of Titas gas field. No new gas transmission infrastructure of gas was set up. Even regular maintenance of gas pipelines to retain design capacity operation was done. Demand has grown in the meantime. Production crisis and transmission constraints of gas system has created crisis over power generation, fertilizer production, operation of industries. Can any democratic government sustain this situation so long? What are the answers of energy sector policy makers?

PM Hasina inaugurated operation of Gas fired Siddhirganj Power Plant only 8 days ago. Gas supply to hundreds of industries of Rupganj and part of other Narayanganj areas were kept suspended to allow gas supply to Siddhirganj Power plant of Indian Company BHEL. Even then due to low gas pressure the plant operation has been shut down.

Last winter Dhaka City and adjoining areas experienced the worst gas crisis of history .None told us that situation improved much.Despearte management went for gas rationing- holiday staggering, planned to shut down CNG fuelling station operation till 4PM on every week days. These may not bring much relief experts apprehends.

According to reliable sources gas deficit is about 300 MMCFD now. National Production capacity is 2000MMCFD but for transmission constraint, only about 1950MMCFD can be transported. Even that transportation is affected by low pressure over entire gas grid as in the main transmission segment N-S Corridor from Beanibazar to Ashuganj transmission system is supersaturated. No on-stream pigging to clean these pipelines has been conducted since the commissioning of these pipelines. There are no pipeline compressor stations in the system. Coalition Government has already run into controversy regarding Muchai Compressor installations. So there is no immediate respite from gas system crisis.

The ensuing irrigation and following summer saw the increase of power demand already by 5000MW per day. PDB can generate about 3800-4000MW. There was little or no addition from last year. PDB claims that about 600MW capacity is lying idle for gas supply crisis. Media reported that Petrobangla confirmed – not more than 750MMCFD gas can be allotted for power generation this season. PDB claimed that they got 800MMCFD last year.PDB fears of uncontrolled load shedding if Petrobangla can not supply more than 750MMCFD gas for power generation. PDB feels that about 4500MW power generation is possible if it gets about 900MMCFD gas supply per day. It is not only now; we can guarantee that in the next two years too, Petrobangla may not be in a position to supply 900MMMCFD gas supply to PDB for power.

It has been learned that PB is taking actions to increase gas production from Tullow operated Bhangura , Mghna and Titas field. But there is no guarantee that these will be available soon.

Citizens of Bangladesh have every right to question Coalition Government management about non-performance rather non achievement of power sector and gas sector over the last 1.25 years. Why leaving development of energy sector issues uncared for while energy think-tank was busy with useless Road Show at London, New York and Singapore? What benefit these brought to Bangladesh energy sector? Why PDB and Petrobangla Chairman could not resolve gas supply to power generation issues when they were in pleasure trips in the name of Road shows abroad?

We feel Energy Sector policy makers and managers owe explanations to the nation. Prime Minister Hasina as Energy Minister must own her failures.

We can not come out of the crisis so long we can realistically diversify fuel for power generation. We must immediately adopt appropriate coal mining strategy. Domestic coal is our best option for power generation. We must start mining of coal in our mines by economic means to extract maximum resource in proven technique and start setting up some large capacity mine power plants. Plants on imported coal will not be economic and cannot be in less than 5 years in current reality. These are all hypes and ways of trapping Bangladesh permanently on Indian dependence. LNG option is also time-consuming and very expensive.

Gas sector is also suffering from competency crisis. Key management has little capability. There is no way gas system can come out of present crisis in less than 3 years. But some contingency measures can create some comfort. We do not understand why gas saved for routine maintenance of KAFCO and forced outage of CUFL can not bring Raujan and Shikhalbaha to full capacity generation at least temporarily. Fertilizer plants unfortunately are the only ones which has can be shut down on rotations to divert gas for other use including Power plants. PDB must also try to produce maximum from Energy efficient plants. People do not want to listen to blaming games between PDB and Petrobangla.

Actions suggested.


• Raujan and Sikalbaha must be kept operational over the entire period of KAFCO maintenance.
• CUFL when back in operation should be operated at optimum gas load.
• During maintenance of JFCL, GPS must get the gas saved,
• On-Stream Pigging of N-S, R-A and A-B Pipeline must be carried out on Top Priority Basis. Otherwise Gas System low pressure situation can not be overcome.
• Authentic audit can be carried out by parliamentary committee about Performance of all IOCs and management of PSC by Petrobangla. Inactions in exploration of Petroleum and Mineral resource are the main reasons for the present massive energy crisis.

Mid Term
• GTCL Compressor Station Project of Ashuganj and Elenga must be expedited.
• Coal mining at Phulbari immediately by Surface mining method and Barapukuria by same method after 2011 must be planned without delay.
• At least two 500MW each Coal Fired Power plants must be set up in Min Mouth in Phulbari Area

Long Term
• Khalaspeer and Dighipara must be explored under PPP.
• Prospect of CBM from Jamalgonj must be explored.
• Cairn-Santos must be given proper incentives to successfully carry out exploration at Magnama and Hatiya.
• PSC with Conoco Philips and Tullow must be signed without delay.
• Next bidding round from remaining offshore Blocks and onshore blocks must be initiated.
• Actions for LNG import facility set up must be initiated so that by 2-15 we are in a position to switch to LNG after adjusting our energy price in several small steps.

In the ensuing irrigation season and following summer, citizens will suffer. There is nothing government can do other than rolling some heads which continuously misguided policy makers.

Written by Kh. A. Saleque (Saleque Sufi) is the ex-Director (Operation) GTCL and writes from Australia.


E-Bangladesh is a News/Headlines service and a group blog aimed at bringing the news and analysis from Bangladesh to its readers.

10 Responses to “Chaotic Energy Situtaion in the Offing”

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    Abdul Amin

    Why Hasina not resolve issue at Phulbari and get our own coal in production immediately , 4 year they have been scratching head over project. Stop making people suffer and get this resolve.

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    Criticism for the sake of criticism is not welcome. The chaotic power situation has not evolved overnight. Its not just the government who is to blame.This government has nothing to do with total ruination of statecraft by the war criminal-infested communal BNP-Jamaat-e-Islami government of Khaleda Zia.

    We all know what had happened in the past in the power sector. It was the most corrupt public sector to be exploited by cronies of Tarek Rahman and his family members.Khaleda Zia also overlooked this mega ministry during her past terms as her son was deeply involved in the shady deals and plunder of the national treasury.

    Then you have a nexus of public-private racket that steals an enormous amount of energy (i.e., systems loss) from the national power grid.Besides, it takes 3-4 years to build a 1000 MW power plant.

    I see hope in the policies undertaken by this government. Gas exploration for new reserves, utilization of coal reserves, solar, nuclear and wind energy are the thrust sectors. Red tapism, a slowly creeping bureaucracy in formulating and implementing projects, corruption and inefficiencies serve as stumbling blocks to our progress.

    The public too should share the blame. Has anyone done a study on what amount of energy is wasted in Dhaka city alone because of public irresponsibility and unawareness. Running generators and coolers and other electric appliances unnecessarily in offices and residences must be avoided at any cost

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    Khondkar A Saleque

    Dear Mr Javed.
    Thanks for your valuable input. Mahajote Government is there bacause BNP fouled it up.25 % of its term is gone .Where is coal extraction initiative? Where is gas exploration program? Where are competent managers?
    But from my 28 years experience of Bangladesh energy sector I see imported Coal or LNG can not be the preffered option.Solar , Wind and Nuclear will not solve the crisis. It has to be our own coal and Gas.What are our initiatives. You have seen what I have suggested. Objective crtiocism is far better than blind faith.

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    Well, we don’t think it is criticism for the sake of criticism only. The story above bears the genuine testimony of real facts being authored by the former ex. Director Operation GTCL who is well informed of gas and power situation of the country and possible remedy too. So his suggestions here cannot be just ignored terming them as criticism for criticism’s sake only. We do not disagree that the BNP-Jamaat Jote Govt. did all those mischief and destroyed the energy sector. But that does not mean that just sing that song every day and put no efforts to improve or recover the destroyed sector to a palpable state. We really do not see any visible efforts of this Govt. in this regard except increasing load shedding and inventing new techniques of offering sufferings to the people in the name of so called RATIONING. What that RATIONING has contributed to the people and the country? Serious fall in the industrial production, half day’s less business of the business community with no improvement in the domestic supply of either gas or electricity.!! The experts say, there is a bright prospect of gas reserves in the country but that is not being exploited due internal and external conspiracy and inexperienced bureaucrat advisers sitting on the head of the PM. Say, the energy adviser H.T.Imam, what is he doing or in plain words what is his achievement in one year and three months? He could achieve nothing but leasing out a block to a controversial company and that too not free of objection from the experts. This is not his job because he is a bureaucrat termed as jack of all trades and master of none. Whereas proper experts are not given chance to work due to his instigation and created blockade. There was a pointed finger of illegal deal also against him. Even then he is unmoved and still in his position despite offering no improvement but derogation to the situation. What does it mean when the country is suffering severely due to shortage of gas and electricity? Is it criticism for the sake of criticism only? Most probably the enemies of the Sheikh Hasina Govt. can say so but not the real friends.

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    The Awami League government has not been sitting idle since coming to power. It already has added several hundred MWs into the power grid. You just cannot produce 100s of MWs of energy overnight. There’s no quick cure for a disease that has been deliberately allowed to deteriorate.It is not just the advisers on whom the PM relies. She listens to advices and suggestions from many quarters including energy experts, bureaucrats and businessmen.

    The chaotic power sector clearly shows the foresightedness of the BNP-Jamaat alliance in creating chaos and mess for new governments. I am surprised to learn that the total shortage of supply in the national power grid today is about 1500 MWs. This could have been easily addressed in the past 7-9 years if tons of money had not been taken out of the country by the most corrupt government in Bangladesh’s history.

    Weeding out corruption from this sector won’t be easy. Let us not only blame ourselves. Foreign companies also indulge in bribery to increase their profit margin.

    I am sure that by the time this government complete its term it will feed another 1500-2000MWs and infuse newly found gas reserves into the gas supply. But at the same time it is also exploring other options like solar energy and wind since oil and gas will dwindle globally over the years.

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    Nasima Rouf

    What the hell was BNP appointed BB governor Fakruddin and Tarek blessed Moinuddin doing during their unconstitutional grab on power.These goofs added insult to injury. Wasted time and money just like their BNP-Jamaat mentors.

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    Sarah Zaman

    I must congratulate the PM for her farsightedness in battling the current and future energy scenario. This lady has matured into a world class leader.

    As a quick fix she has chosen the solar panels to be made compulsory on new buildings. For long-term solution on a permanent footing she has rightly opted for the nuclear reactors. In this regard I want to applaud her father Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman for his visionary decision soon after independence to seek Russian assistance to build the Rooppur nuclear reactor. Sad to know that the founder had lived for only 3-4 years since independence and all his brilliant ideas were put under lock and key by all the ilegitimate and elected governments over the last 35 years since his brutal assassination. Time and again I see ECNEC and cabinet meetings revisiting the founding father’s brilliant strokeplays to solve our problems even today!

    Besides, we have offshore and inland oil and gas, coal and other conventional options to meet our growing needs at present.

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    Atif Aslam

    Today, I had a lengthy decision with an energy expert who is a middle tier executive with a MNC. He flatly rejected the cheap talkshow suggestions that the energy crisis can be quickly resolved by the government. But as a matter of fact the electricity and gas crisis have no quick fix solution.Explored offshore gas fields are not likely to enter the national gas supply pipeline in the next 3 years.

    If the government focuses on total quality management (TQM) in the power sector it would take at least 3 to 4 years to meet the growing demands to a manageable level.

    Since we Bengalis are lousy at managerial skills I would opine in favour of hiring foreign expertise, preferably Japanese management teams to address the energy situation both operationally and strategically.

    When you see jounalists like Mr. Musa or Nurul Kabir trying to incite unrest against the government for the acute power crisis which has no immediate solution one feels disgusted at the shallowness of senior journalists who behave more like yellow journalists. We have become so selfish that if we are not pampered by the government we opt to stake a anti-government stance. It is even more ugly when you see senior journalists behave irresponsibly. Mr. Musa and Mr. Nurul Kabir seems to have degenerated. It was ridiculous to hear Mr. Musa comparing parliamentary democracy to military dictatorship. Shame on those who take a anti-party stand if they are not offered a share of the pie.

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    shamsuddin ahamed

    We have big oppurtinity to solve our energy crisis by using under ground coal gasification technology (ucg).Thanks to prof. Bodrul Imam of DU for presenting a paper in petrobangla on the subject. PM’s Energy advisor declared on 26th july that Govt. will take a pilot project on ucg to utilised Jamalgonj coal deposit one billion ton at depth 600m to 1000m which is nonmineable in any form dirty open pit or long wall process.UCG is alredy a proven technolgy and many country adopting this like USA,Canada,South Africa,UK,Newzeland,Russia,China,India and many more countries.In Canada Swan Hills Synfuels producing UGC at depth 1400m.Eskom in S.Africa producing 400MWe from Majubu ucg plant since last three years and this year they connected ucg to a 4200MW coal fired powere station where ucg will use as co fuel.Energy Advisor’s declaration passed one and half month,no other news regarding ugc.To solve our sever energy crisis there is no other safe and less costly alternative.

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