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Petrobangla, Bapex slammed heavily for ‘below par performance’

  • Published at 05:54 pm December 15th, 2019
Nasrul Hamid
File photo of State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid Dhaka Tribune

The exploration company finds wild animals an obstacle to exploring gas

The state minister for power, energy and mineral resources came down heavily on the Bangladesh Oil, Gas and Mineral Corporation, and the Bangladesh Petroleum Exploration and Production Company Limited for their ‘poor performance’.

Nasrul Hamid, the junior minister, said the government may ‘revisit’ the exploration company, also dubbed as Bapex, if it keeps failing to perform as expected to help the country overcome its growing energy crisis.

Speaking as the chief guest at a seminar titled “Hydrocarbon Exploration in Bangladesh: Progress and Challenges” yesterday, he also attributed the debacle to the corporation, known as Petrobangla. 

Bapex, a subsidiary of Petrobangla, organised the seminar at its office in the capital where the state minister launched a standard operating procedure (SOP).

SOP is a set of step-by-step instructions compiled by an organization to help workers carry out complex routine operations.

“The government cannot take responsibility for your (Bapex’s) failure. If we assess your performance, you will find yourselves in trouble,” Nasrul warned.

“We have already checked the manpower in the power sector. The same way, we may check Bapex and its human resources,” he cautioned.

He warned that foreign companies may take its place if Bapex continues to perform poorly. Nasrul further expressed his resentment after a keynote termed “Wild animals a challenge to onshore gas well exploration.”

“Why would wild animals be an obstacle? How can a snake bite pose a challenge to digging wells? I really don’t understand. You are the challenge to yourselves,” said an agitated Nasrul. 

“Bapex has a history of success, but it has been failing for the last few years. This can’t continue and the same applies for Petrobangla,” he added.  

Abu Hena Md Rahmatul Muneem, senior secretary to the Energy and Mineral Resources Division, said: “Petrobangla and Bapex were never expected to operate in this manner.

“Both do not want to share any information (relating to hydrocarbon reserve, resources or exploration) as if those are highly confidential and would wreak havoc in the country when divulged,” Muneem said.   

However, Bapex Managing Director Mir Md Abdul Hannan, who remained silent during the remarks, defended his organisation after the duo left the venue, claiming a “satisfactory 40% success.”

“We dug 15 wells and explored four of those for gas. If you compare the success rate, it is at par with average global standard,” he told reporters.

But when Dhaka Tribune inquired further, he failed to confirm the duration of drilling the wells.  

The Petrobangla Chairman Md Ruhul Amin, too, did not have any statements to defend their work. However, Amin too opened up after the departure of the state minister and the secretary, just as Hannan had, saying that criticism will always prevail. 

“Nothing is beyond criticism, but we have to proceed further by overcoming all loopholes and odds,” he concluded.  

Major failure of Bapex

During the government’s previous tenure, Bapex undertook an initiative to develop 108 onshore wells between 2016 and 2021. 

Of the wells, Bapex was supposed to search 53 wells, dig 35 development wells, and complete the work of 20 wells to materialise the government’s Vision-2021.

But the plans have been recently shelved. According to media reports, only four wells were drilled until June last year. 

Bangladesh is already facing a massive gas supply shortage of 1,200mmcfd, against the daily demand of 4,000 mmcfd.

In order to mitigate the crisis, the government started importing expensive liquefied natural gas from last year, as the exploration of onshore gas fields has been very poor for the last five-six years.

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