Priority to the fertilizer plants, instead of the power plants: asked to Petrobangla
Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Staff Correspondent

The Energy and Mineral Resources Division on Sunday asked Petrobangla to give priority to the fertilizer plants, instead of the power plants, in supplying gas in the ongoing Boro season. An inter-ministry meeting, chaired by special assistant to the chief adviser M Tamim, decided that the Shikalbaha power plant would suspend generation, if needed, so that more gas can be fed to the Raujan power plant and gas supply to Chittagong Urea Fertilizer Limited and Karnaphuli Fertilizer Company can be ensured for smooth production.

Tamim asked Petrobangla to give priority to fertilizer plants as the meeting observed that if there were electricity shortage, Boro cultivation would not be hampered as electricity could be ensured by cutting supply to urban areas, but if there were fertilizer shortage there would be a serious problem as it would take time to import fertilizer. The meeting discussed the gas shortage in the Chittagong belt because of the declining gas production in the offshore Sangu gas-field.

The officials of the Bangladesh Chemicals and Industries Corporation told the meeting that the fertilizer plants often faced gas shortage as Petrobangla gives priority to the power plants, and requested the government to give priority to the fertlizer plants during the ongoing Boro season. The officials specially mentioned three plants — Kafco and CUFL in Chittagong and Jamuna in Jamalpur — where gas supply should be ensured on a priority basis. KAFCO’s chief executive officer, Muhammad Qaiser Jamal, told the meeting that gas production from the Sangu gas-field has been declining at an average rate of four million cubic feet per day for the last few months. He observed the Kafco would face a fuel crisis if the declining trend of gas production continues in Sangu.

The production capacity of Sangu, operated by UK-based Cairn Energy, has gradually declined to around 60 million cubic feet per day in recent times from 150 mmcfd in 2006, causing severe gas shortage in Chittagong. The Chittagong region, covering greater Chittagong, Comilla and Noakhali, has a demand of around 350 mmcfd of gas but gets around 290 mmcfd only. Once Sangu was the major supplier of gas to the Chittagong region but Petrobangla now injects additional gas from other gas-fields to feed the area.

Tamim asked Petrobangla’s officials to prepare a plan on how to ensure gas supply to Chittagong, keeping in consideration the declining production in Sangu. The energy ministry convened the inter-ministry meeting attended by energy secretary Mohammad Mohsin, officials of the industry ministry, Bangladesh Chemical Industries Corporation, Power Division, Power Development Board, Petrobangla and various gas agencies.

The meeting decided that gas supply to the outdated Shikalbaha power plant, which gets around 11 mmcfd of gas, would be stopped as the plant is not fuel-efficient, and the same amount of gas would be diverted to the more modern Raujan plant. One of two 210 MW units of Raujan will get around 35mmcfd of gas as other unit is out of operation. Tamim asked the PDB to submit a report on whether the Raujan power plant could be converted into a dual-fuel plant to reduce dependence on gas, find out the cost of electricity generation and the time to needed to complete conversion.

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