Bangladesh reviews plan to convert island district’s gas to CNG as LNG import resumes

The resumption of LNG import may affect the demand for CNG at industries in

Published : 10 March 2023, 10:45 PM
Updated : 10 March 2023, 10:45 PM

The government is having a rethink on the plan pushed by a technical committee to convert gas found in island district Bhola to Compressed Natural Gas or CNG for distribution among industries in other parts of the country.

It initiated the plan several months ago amid a supply crunch due to a halt on the imports of Liquified Natural Gas or LNG following a dollar shortage.

As it resumed LNG import, the pressure has eased, and some doubt if the businesses are still interested in CNG from Bhola.

The Prime Minister’s Office will take the final decision after the review by the energy ministry.

Energy Secretary Khairuzzaman Majumder said preparations were on to bring gas from Bhola in the form of CNG, but it was uncertain when the process would begin.

The Prime Minister’s Energy Advisor Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury had revealed the plan in October 2022 after the recent discovery of several gas fields in Bhola.

State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid said in January the work to bring gas from the coastal district would begin in February.

Kamruzzaman Khan, a director of the state gas company Petrobangla, said they initially picked Intraco CNG for the conversion of gas from Bhola and its distribution among industrial customers in Gazipur and Mymensingh. Intraco was chosen because its preparedness looked good, he said.

If Intraco succeeds, others will get the job gradually, according to him.

In Bhola, nine wells are supplying 120 million cubic feet of gas daily, of which 86 million cubic feet are used to produce power and other purposes in the district.

An official at the Rupantarita Prakritik Gas Company Limited said it would be possible to convert and bring 20 million cubic feet of the rest of the gas from Bhola daily.

Kamruzzman said customers pay Tk 43 per unit of CNG. The cost to bring gas from Bhola is estimated to be Tk 50 per unit, according to him. “In that case, a price between these two rates would be fixed for the gas from Bhola.”

“Petrobangla will take a nominal price for the gas. The government won’t need to pay here.”

Satyajit Ghosh, a deputy general manager with the state gas distributor Titas, said they asked 48 industrial customers in Mymensingh for their opinion on the gas from Bhola. Around 20 showed interest formally, while some verbally expressed the desire to get CNG.

“But supply is normal in this area now. So it is doubtful whether they still have the same interest in CNG from Bhola.”

If supply is hampered for some reason, the demand for CNG from Bhola will rise, he added.

The government supplied around 2,500 million cubic feet of gas through the national grid daily against a demand for up to 3,600 cubic feet between June 2022 and January 2023. The supply included 370-420 million cubic feet from imported LNG.

After the resumption of LNG import, the total supply increased to nearly 3,000 million cubic feet, including around 780 million cubic feet from LNG.