Only two decade ago it was estimated that the country was floating on natural gas. But now it has become the worst primary energy-hungry country in Asia due to its gradual industrialization.
Different surveys conducted so far show that the existing reserve of gas will be exhausted by the year 2025 if there was no substantial discovery. But the exploration initiatives remain very limited.
State Minister for Power and Energy Nasrul Hamid told the daily Observer on Wednesday, "It is a fact that the existing reserve of natural gas will be used up by the next decade. We have initiated installation of the LNG terminal in Moheshkhali Island to meet the energy demand of planned power plants.
Energy Division official said that only two international oil companies (IOCs) are now working in three offshore blocks and the country will have to wait until 2019 to know whether the blocks contain gas or oil. Meanwhile, US oil giant ConocoPhillips stayed away from two deep offshore blocks after their failure to get an increased rate of gas than what was agreed as per the PSC signed with the government.
A joint venture of ConocoPhillips and Statoil had won the product sharing contract (PSC). The government has now decided in principle to sign PSC on the two blocks with Statoil. Meanwhile, state-owned BAPEX is now looking for partners to explore hydrocarbon in joint-venture in the Chittagong Hill Tracts.
Energy Secretary Md Abubaker Siddique recently said the government will not go for onshore PSCs and BAPEX will do the job. Experts, however, viewed that IOCs must be invited as it will not be possible for the BAPEX to do the job alone.
The government also failed to ensure proper use of gas. As a result businesses and industries are suffering due to energy crisis. For the massive investment made by the private sector in the last decade, it is almost impossible for the government to cater gas to industry, Prof Tamim, energy specialist at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) told the daily Observer.
Recently, only five plants have been given assurance of gas including Bibiana from Petrobangla. But the rests of the plants are in uncertainty over power generation.
Naturally, the generation of electricity is 1,000MW less due to gas crisis. For running of power plants the demand is 138mmcft of gas. But the plants are assured of only 20mmcft.
For power generation 'we need 30mmcft by 2015, 32mmcft by 2016 and 28 mmcft by 2017," said a Power Development Board (PDB) official.
By 2017 the gas demand will be 230mmcft but the Petrobangla will provide only 106mmcft. Presently, some 230mmcft gas is being extracted daily, of which, power plants are getting 80mmcft of gas.
The government has no plan to develop the gas resource for a long time. While the market expanded without considering production and transmission feasibility. State-run gas companies moved to transport higher than their capacity through saturated transmission system causing significant pressure drop over the entire gas system. Given the country's financial and technological constraints, the government cannot do much at this stage to undertake effective exploration of gas ensuring energy security, said Prof Izaz Hossin, an energy expert at BUET.