A two-day disruption in the supply from LNG terminals inflicted by Cyclone Mocha has laid bare the energy crisis Bangladesh is facing, with power stations and factories forced to suspend or reduce production.
Besides power cuts denying people any respite from the scorching heat, low pressure or lack of gas in the kitchen has spelled trouble for many. Cars, autorickshaws and other vehicles waited in long queues for gas at refuelling stations.
The troubles somewhat eased on Wednesday as demand for power fell along with temperatures after rains under the influence of the powerful storm that lashed the coastal district of Cox’s Bazar on Sunday after making landfall mostly in Myanmar.
One of the two floating LNG terminals, which were sent deep into the sea during the storm, resumed operation on Monday, helping ease the situation to some extent, said Md Kamruzzaman Khan, a director of Petrobangla.
The two terminals supplied 700 million cubic feet of gas per day, but now only one terminal is providing 550 MMcf of gas, according to him. Out of this, approximately 300 MMcfd of gas is supplied to the power plants, while the remaining gas is meeting the demands of industries and other customers.
Another Petrobangla official said that they are working to resume supply from the second terminal within a week, which, if successful, will restore the gas supply situation to its previous state.
SM Wazed Ali Sardar, a member of the PDB, said they were working tirelessly day and night to improve the situation, but it would likely take at least another week to see significant improvements.
The national grid used to receive 2,800 MMcf of gas from domestic wells and LNG daily. However, some industrial areas still faced gas shortages, as reported by industry owners.
Mohammad Hatem, the executive president of the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association or BKMEA, mentioned a slight decrease in power cuts but added gas shortage persisted
He said since the LNG crisis began, gas supplies had been completely cut off. Industries did not receive as much gas as required even before the ongoing crisis unfolded, he said.
According to Hatem, the government raised the gas prices by over 100 percent, promising to address the gas demand. However, despite the price hike, the expected gas supply did not happen.
This led to the closure of a dyeing factory in Narayanganj, located along the Dhaka-Chattogram Highway, just before Eid-ul-Fitr, he said.
Hatem also said that a few days ago, he accompanied 12 industrialists from Madanpur in a meeting with Titas, but they were denied gas supply.
FUEL SHORTAGE DISRUPTS POWER PRODUCTION
The country has a generation capacity of 27,361 MW, including the power imported from India, as per Power Cell data. On Apr 19 at 9pm, the Power Development Board, or PDB, achieved a record-high electricity generation of 15,648 megawatts.
In 2013, the government started importing electricity from India to ensure an uninterrupted supply. Bangladesh receives 1160 MW of electricity from the neighbouring country and 400 MW from Adani's Jharkhand Godda Thermal Power Station.
However, due to shortages in coal, gas, and fuel oil, the highest production in a day fell to 11,085 MW on May 14. Despite achieving peak generation, there is still a gap of around 500 MW in the transmission line, as the daily power demand surpasses 16,000 MW, according to the PDB.
This indicates a decline of approximately 4,500 MW in production over a span of 25 days, which forced the distributors to resort to frequent power cuts.
According to PDB data, among the 153 power plants in operation across the country, 59 are gas-based.
Notably, 18 major plants are currently closed, including Summit's 335 MW Meghnaghat power plant, Electricity Generation Company of Bangladesh or EGCB's Siddhirganj 335MW combined cycle power plant or CCPP, EGCB's 210 MW Siddhirganj thermal power station, Bangladesh Power Development Board's Tongi 105 MW Power Station, Regent Energy and Power’s 108 MW Ghorasal power plant, PDB's Chattogram TPP-1 210 MW power plant, PDB's Chattogram TPP-2 210 MW power plant, and Ashuganj's 450 MW CCPP (South).
Furthermore, a unit of the Rampal thermal power plant, with a capacity of 617 MW, is currently shut off due to a shortage of coal. Additionally, in Dinajpur’s Barapukuria, there are three coal-fired power plants capable of generating a total of 444 MW, but one 85 MW unit is not operational due to insufficient coal supply.
According to the PDB, the peak power generation on May 10 reached 14,035 MW. However, following the impact of the storm, the power generation decreased to 11,000 MW on May 16.
The halt in the supply of 650 to 700 MMcfd of gas from the floating LNG terminal in the sea has led to a reduction in electricity production by approximately 2,000 MW, PDB member Wazed said.
The central monitoring room of Bangladesh Rural Electrification Board reported a shortfall of 2,300 MW of electricity around 3pm on Tuesday. Some customers were frustrated about experiencing power cuts for six to seven hours in certain areas..
Bikash Dewan, the managing director of Dhaka Power Distribution Company, said that there had been an ongoing shortage of approximately 500 MW of electricity in its distribution area for the last few days. The demand occasionally reached 1200 MW, while the available supply ranges from 700 MW to 800 MW.
Kawsar Amir Ali, the managing director of Dhaka Electric Supply Company, said they were facing similar problems.
He said that DESCO's distribution area has an average electricity requirement of 1100 MW, leading to a daily deficit of 200 to 300 MW.
[Writing in English by Arshi Fatiha Quazi]