The government on Wednesday received the request for proposals (RfPs) from four international firms interested in supplying an expensive research vessel to be used in the Bay of Bengal, despite some controversies over the transparency of the procurement process.
The “highly advanced” ship will be acquired under the Speedy Supply of Power and Energy (Special Provision) Act 2010, which is generally applied to purchases that are of immediate need and enjoys various immunities, including avoiding government tenders.
“Expressions of Interest (EoIs) were sought from shipbuilders and owners for delivering a vessel for seismic exploration and geological and oceanographic purposes in the bay,” a director of the state-owned oil company Petrobangla told the Dhaka Tribune on condition of anonymity.
Petrobangla initiated the proceedings to buy the ship on the government’s behalf, after failing for three years to appoint an international firm to conduct a seismic survey on the hydrocarbon prospect in the sea.
The director said 23 companies expressed their interest, of which five were selected by an evaluation committee formed by the Energy and Mineral Resources Division with Dhaka University’s Oceanography Department Professor Md Kawser Ahmed as its head.
Interestingly enough, the committee was not allowed preserve any copy of its evaluation report after submitting it to the Energy and Mineral Resources Division.
Moreover, a member of the committee who preferred not to be named said the government also did not inform the committee that it had already sought RfPs from the companies shortlisted.
Of the five companies asked to submit RfPs to Petrobangla, only four complied: the UK-based WesternGeco; and Polarcus Limited, Petroleum Geo-Services and Volstad Maritime, which all operate out of Norway.
When contacted, Professor Md Kawsar Ahmed declined to make any comment on the procurement process.
Petrobangla is looking to acquire a multi-role offshore survey and research vessel that is under construction or has been newly constructed but not used, or used for not more than five years, within a budget of approximately Tk1,200 crore.
According to EoI documents, the multi-role offshore survey and research vessel will be highly advanced, with a modern mono-hull and integrated diesel-electric propulsion.
Measuring approximately 100 metres long by 20m wide, with a draft of about 6.50m, the ship should be ideally suited to perform seismic surveys, and geo-technical, oceanographic, geophysical and hydrographic surveys, from coastal bays and estuaries to beyond the continental shelf in the Bay.
The shipbuilder or owner must supply the ship within a maximum of 12 months, if new, or a maximum 10 months if already in use.
Aiming at overseeing the ship procurement process, the state-owned Petrobangla has finalised the appointment of a German consultancy firm, Technolog Services, in a deal worth Tk25 crore.