• Wednesday, Apr 24, 2019
  • Last Update : 09:36 pm

Chittagong consumers claim gas shortages despite supply boost

  • Published at 01:55 am September 13th, 2018
Gas Stove
File photo of a gas burner Mahmud Hossain Opu

Bangladesh currently faces a shortage of 1 billion cubic feet of gas a day (bcfd), while the demand is around 3.7 bcfd.

Householders in Chittagong are experiencing acute shortages of liquefied natural gas (LNG) even though the government says it is now pushing 300 million cubic feet (mmcfd) into the national grid every day.  

Before the new LNG supply started on August 18, the supply of gas was around 225 mmcfd against an overall demand of 450 mmcfd.

Managing Director Engineer Khaiz Ahmed Mozumder of Karnaphuli Gas Distribution Company Limited (KGDCL) said that with the fresh influx of LNG into the national grid, the gas volume has jumped to 525 mmcfd.

“Two power plants measuring 225MW and 150MW in Shikalbaha of Patiya upazila, and yet another power plant measuring 200MW in Raozan upazila, have already resumed operation,” he said.

Bangladesh currently faces a shortage of 1 billion cubic feet of gas a day (bcfd), while the demand is around 3.7 bcfd. 

Considering the overall situation, the government has signed a deal with Qatar to import 2.8 million tons of LNG annually for the next 15 years. 

Although the maiden consignment from Qatar reached Moheshkhali in Cox’s Bazar on April 24, technical glitches and rough seas caused repeated delays in commissioning the LNG.  

Moinuddin Ahmed Mintu, first vice-president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, cautiously welcomed the move to import LNG but was nervous about an accompanying price hike to be announced by the end of this month.

“Better gas and power supply will encourage more investment in Chittagong, ultimately helping the regional growth greatly,” he said.

“(However) I hope the government increases gas prices to a permissible limit, to adjust for the imported LNG prices.” 

Although household gas consumers are expected to be spared any price hike, many residents of the port city said they were still reeling from acute gas shortages despite the government’s action.

Housewife Nurun Nahar, of Dewanhat in the city, said she was forced to wait until 11am on September 4 for a gas supply sufficient to prepare a meal for her family. 

“It does not seem that more gas has been added to the regular supply since the pressure of gas is very low,” she told the Dhaka Tribune.

A similar experience was shared by Ayesha Siddiqua, an inhabitant of Hali Shahar.

“The gas supply ever since Eid-ul-Azha was quite smooth, but shortages began in the last few days,” she said.

Both consumers had been unaware that households in Chittagong city were receiving only half the gas until September 3, when the supply was increased by 133% according to the Karnaphuli Gas Distribution Company.

Primarily, around 75 mmcfd was pumped into the pipeline, with the KGDCL pledging to gradually increase the gas volume.

Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) Chittagong President SM Nazir Hossain said he was skeptical of the claims.

“It needs to be verified if the KGDCL has really increased the gas supply since complaints of gas shortage were surfacing from parts of the city,” he said.

He urged the KGDCL authorities to prioritise household users since their number is manifold compared to the consumers in the industrial, fertiliser and power sectors.  

“The city should be brought under pre-paid metering coverage so the consumers get the right share of gas against a fair price,” the CAB leader suggested.