Bangladesh needs short and medium-term plans to scope out its own resources to mitigate the fuel crisis, according to State Minister for Power and Energy Nasrul Hamid.
Speaking at a virtual dialogue marking National Energy Security Day, Hamid on Tuesday asked everyone “to be patient and plan the way ahead”.
“We are yet to explore a lot of our resources. The faster we can make a decision on short and long-term plans and get such resources, the quicker we’ll be able to resolve the crisis.”
Hamid said that time is running out and those involved in the energy sector must swiftly engage themselves in “gathering all that is necessary” to overcome the ongoing energy crisis.
Experts have called for the authorities to speed up oil and gas extraction while looking for new resources amid the ongoing crunch.
Bangladesh has 28 gas fields, of which 20 are used for extraction. There are another 48 onshore and offshore blocks.
The amount of gas from onshore fields is gradually declining, while the sea is all but barren of gas production outposts though many believe large deposits of gas exist in the sea.
Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, the prime minister’s energy, fuel and mineral resources adviser, said even if exploration leads to new deposits of oil and gas, it will take a lot of time to extract and make them usable.
"So it is best to exercise frugality. If we discover something in the depths of the sea … it will take us 10 years to use it.”
“We need resources for these 10 years. So we’ve come to say that we’ll be able to move forward as much as we save fuel.”
Chowdhury said the academic speculations were worth little. It was once thought that the country is overflowing with natural gas. “The hype triggered discussions about exporting it. The prime minister said as long as we don’t have a 50-year stock, we won’t do it.”
“Oil is a geopolitical weapon. We must remember how it is controlling the world. That doesn’t mean we simply keep waiting. We have to keep trying.”
Chowdhury mentioned that the government adopted policies for energy diversification and power generation taking the overall situation into account.
“The world is facing a crisis. Oil costs in the US have risen to around $5 per gallon. Germany spoke a lot about renewable energy but they’ve reverted to coal-powered power stations. Germany produces 60,000 MW of electricity from coal, while it is 200,000 MW for the US.”
“When we first established the coal-based power stations, the environmentalists said it is destroying the planet. But these power plants are technologically advanced and drew in higher investments.”
“Then we turned to nuclear power for diversification. We’re getting electricity from India at good prices. We’re also working on hydroelectricity with Nepal and Bhutan.”
Chowdhury went to say: “We don’t know when [the crisis] will end. If this goes on for a year, it’ll cause huge problems. Spot LNG prices are now $40 per unit. God knows how much it’ll be in the next winter. So if we can’t access the spot market then, long-term plans are the best bet.”
In 1975, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s government bought five gas fields -- Titash, Bakhrabad, Habiganj, Rashidpur, and Kailashtila -- from Shell Oil Company to establish state ownership. These five fields still produce 30 percent of the gas in the country today.