Gas import from Myanmar, Qatar to be too costly
Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Chief Adviser''s Special Assistant for Power and Energy Ministry Dr M Tamim Monday said there should be a quick decision on coal sector development for the sake of the country''s future energy security, reports UNB.

"We can''t wait...whatever the decision is it has to be taken very fast in a transparent and accountable manner," he said at a seminar, ''Mining and Community Livelihood in Bangladesh'', organised by Petrobangla at its auditorium.

Energy secretary Mohammad Mohsin and Petrobangla chairman Jalal Ahmed also spoke at the seminar.
Mentioning the environment, local community displacement and choice of energy and food security as the three main issues of concern in coal sector development, Dr Tamim urged the experts to evolve strategies to address the issues.

He said it has to be worked out how the impacts on the environment and local community could be minimised apart from setting the priorities between food and energy security. Dr Tamim said the government needs to ensure that the displaced people in coal mining areas would get more benefits than those who were displaced in the Uttara and Purbachal town development projects, "because coal mining is more profitable business".

Describing the international energy perspective and growing energy demand, he said Bangladesh should look into different options for alternative sources of energy.

He said the reserve of gas, the country''s main source of energy on which 85 percent of power generation depends, is depleting very first.

The CA''s Special Assistant said there might be more undiscovered gas reserves. "If we want to discover this gas reserve, about US$ 8 billion investment will be required. Can we afford to take risk in this huge investment?" he asked.

"The risk factors and high investment have to be understood... We cannot take risk, so we need foreign investment and new technologies to develop the gas sector."

Mentioning the unaffordable cost involved in gas import from Myanmar and Qatar, he said the cost will be from 5 to 7 US dollars per 1000 cubic feet (mcf) against about 2.5 US dollars in Bangladesh.

Similarly, he said, the cost of coal is going up fast like that of petroleum fuel. He said a few years back the price of per metric ton of coal was 30-40 US dollars, now it has gone up to 160 US dollars.

The BUET professor-turned-caretaker government functionary admitted, "a lot of industries in line to be set up cannot be done so as Petrobangla is unable to supply gas."

"If we fail to supply gas to new industries in the future, the economic development will suffer a setback," he said justifying the government move for the 3rd round international bidding for gas extraction.
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