PM’s energy adviser calls for patience, warns of ‘nonsense’ ideas

He warns people of ‘nonsense ideas sent from abroad’

Published : 4 August 2022, 07:23 PM
Updated : 4 August 2022, 07:23 PM

Tawiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, the prime minister’s adviser for power, energy and mineral resources, has urged citizens to deal with the recurring blackouts with patience for uninterrupted electricity supply to industries and agriculture.

Speaking at a seminar organised by the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry in Dhaka on Thursday, he warned people of “nonsense ideas sent from abroad” about the energy sector, which he said was related to geopolitics.

He also said the government did everything possible for energy security in the past decade, but current global conditions have disrupted its plans.

Tawfiq once again compared the situation with the 1971 Liberation War. “We must make sacrifices for the country just the way people did during the nine months of the war. Because external conditions, such as the Ukraine war, not the government, have created the situation.”

Bangladesh stopped buying liquified natural gas or LNG from the spot market due to rise in the price of fuels amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and subsequent sanctions imposed by the West. More than half of Bangladesh’s power plants are fuelled by gas.

The government also suspended production at the power plants run by costly diesel, leading to an electricity shortage. Areas across the country are now experiencing recurring outages amid heatwaves.

“I can’t promise anything unless we find a huge reserve of gas. We can try to extract what we have, but that won’t increase production much.” Tawfiq said.

“We must accept this and help our industries and agriculture move forward.”

He said wrong ideas about power and energy spread in Bangladesh sometimes.

“Some nonsense ideas are imposed on us from abroad. We must be alert to these.”

“Some days ago, a booklet demanded the closure of all coal-based power plants and a halt to the plan to import power from Adani [Adani Power Limited of India]. Please identify those who make these suggestions because they want to cripple our country and make it dependent on foreign powers.”

He said the war in Europe has forced Poland and Germany to reopen their old coal-fired power plants. “Germany produces three times more power than our capacity from coal. And the Germans lecture us about it when they come here.”

Tawfiq said the United States Geological Survey had once estimated Bangladesh had 30 trillion cubic feet of gas. “It had been said that Bangladesh is floating on gas. They had advised us to export gas. But Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said we must keep gas for ourselves to use for 50 years before exporting.”

He said Bangladesh’s efforts to extract gas failed in the past 10 years as international companies deemed it would cause loss to them because fuel prices were low at that time.

“New contracts can be signed now as gas prices have increased. But it has become difficult to extract fossil fuel now after the signing of the COP-26 deal [Glasgow Climate Pact].”

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher