‘If present trend continues, Bangladesh will have to spend $20 billion annually by 2030’
Energy experts at a webinar in Dhaka expressed frustration over the government’s unwillingness on hydrocarbon exploration in the country and the growing dependence on gas import to meet domestic demand.
“It is really unfortunate that several years have elapsed since the maritime boundary disputes with neighbours have been resolved, but there has been no move for gas exploration within our territories,” said M Muktadir Ali, former chairman of Petrobangla.
Muktadir was speaking at the virtual seminar, “Fifty Years of Bangladesh Energy Sector”. Energy and Power, a fortnightly magazine, organized the webinar.
He said a vested interest group is very active in blocking any move that is initiated for gas exploration in the country.
The seminal was addressed, among others, by eminent energy expert and former special assistant of chief of caretaker government Dr M Tamim, Dhaka University Professor Dr Badrul Iman, economist Dr Rashed Al Mamun Titumir, former president of Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry Abul Kasem Khan and former managing director of Bapex Mortuza Ahmed Faruque.
Editor of Energy and Power Mollah Amzad Hossain conducted the seminar.
Echoing the observation of Muktadir Ali, Dr Tamim said if the present trend on import of LNG (liquefied natural gas) continues, the country will have to spend annually $20 billion by 2030.
Criticising policymakers for not utilizing state-owned exploration company Bapex for gas exploration, he said the company was always kept “handicapped” in taking its own decision independently.
“For a small decision, it has to seek approval from the Cabinet Purchase Committee, which is a time-consuming process,” he said, adding that only a policy change can strengthen Bapex management enabling it to make its own business decision.
He said Bapex would not be able to keep its efficient manpower until its salary-structure is not upgraded in view of the international oil-gas exploration company.
“But unfortunately, that is not happening”, he said adding the government is increasing gas import.
Dr Badrul Imam said there is a tendency in Petrobangla, the state-owned hydrocarbon corporation, not to share its data with others and keep that in its office lockers.
Dr Rashed Al Mamun Titumir said the country needs to create energy economists and take decisions on the energy sector on the basis of their analyses.