Gas Sector and crisis therein
Saturday, 27 September 2008

According to reports, the gas sector is in utter crisis with the Petrobangla finding no immediate options to manage the situation. With no other economically viable alternative available, gas is the only resource on which both the power and the industrial sectors have become heavily dependent over the last two decades. Also over the last two decades, Bangladesh has neither been very careful nor very meticulous in exploring and exploiting this single natural resource of utmost importance to the Nation. Lacking expertise, Bangladesh was forced to lease out both exploration and exploitation to foreign companies mostly US who have not only wasted a huge amount of gas through carelessness but have also established a stranglehold on this now very valuable resource. More importantly, it is these foreign companies who are privy to data of how much gas Bangladesh really has and from time to time as per their requirement these foreign companies tell us how much of gas we have in which field. One such example is the Bibiyana gas field whose initial reserve was estimated by Chevron at being 2.5 to 3 TCF, but now that estimate has been revised upward to being double of original estimates. The problem is right now Bangladesh is facing a severe energy crunch which is severely affecting not only industries but the entire economy and the lives and living of common people; telling us now that we have double the reserves of initial estimates is not going to meet our immediate needs and demands of power. Besides all the sufferings caused by lack of electricity, Foreign Direct Investments have fallen by as much as 16% over the last one year because Bangladesh is unable to ensure the availability of power to the industrial sector. Its not just foreign companies who are causing all the concern about gas; its our own lack of management in distribution of the resource coupled with massive corruption in distribution, marketing and billing, which is the major cause of concern. All of this cumulatively has led to the present crisis in gas and the power sector and at this rather critical stage one can only comment that the crisis is man-made and has to be resolved through bold decisions implemented aggressively.

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