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No let-up in Dhaka’s gas crisis as winter arrives

  • Published at 12:12 am December 18th, 2018
Web_LNG-Gas-stove
Petrobangla officials hope situation in Dhaka will improve once LNG supply becomes smooth in Chittagong Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

Residents in Old Dhaka, Mirpur, Mohammadpur, Jatrabari, Rampura, Banasree, Agargaon, Khilgaon and Khilkhet, are among those most affected

Dhaka city dwellers continue to suffer as shortage of gas supplies across the city deepen due fall in temperature as the winter season draws near.

Residents in Old Dhaka, Mirpur, Mohammadpur, Jatrabari, Rampura, Banasree, Agargaon, Khilgaon and Khilkhet, are among those most affected.   

Humayun Kabir, a resident of the Agargaon area, said: “This has been a regular scenario in the area and every year during winter season the situation worsens.

“We don’t get gas supplies from 8am to 2pm-3pm during winter.” 

Mofiz Uddin, a blue-collar service-holder, who lives in the city’s Mugda area, claimed the problem is worse over there.  

“We can’t light our stove from 6 in the morning to at least 11pm on most days,” said Mofiz.

As a result he turned to cylinder gas, which is expensive for him.  

Umme Kulsum, a housewife at South Jatrabari, sounded a little relieved as the situation in the area is not that bad, although the low pressure of gas in the pipeline troubles her the most. 

Sources at Petrobangla (Bangladesh Oil, Gas & Mineral Corporation) hoped that the situation in Dhaka will improve once the supply of liquefied natural gas (LNG) becomes smooth in Chittagong.

An official at the Petrbobangla’s LNG Cell, said: “After the demand of gas in Chittagong region is met, the LNG will be injected to the national pipeline connecting to Dhaka which will help solve the crisis. 

“If a sufficient amount of LNG is supplied in Chittagong, the unused natural gas meant for the area would also be pumped through the national network, thus, improving gas supply in Dhaka.”

The Petrobangla official further said Bangladesh will receive another shipment of LNG from Qatar on December 14 which he said is the ninth of LNG to date. 

Complaints against Titas Gas

Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company Ltd currently supplies around 1,700 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd) of gas, against the demand of around 2,000mmcfd of gas in its distribution areas covering Dhaka and Mymensingh. From it the household demand is somewhere around 400mmcfd.

When contacted, Titas General Manager Md Munir Hossain Khan refused to comment on the issue.

Consumers’ Association of Bangladesh Energy Adviser Prof M Shamsul Alam said: “Titas Gas is deliberately limiting gas supply in the city.”

“The government has awarded it instead, giving a deaf ear to the complaints of the consumers,” he said.

Prof Shamsul termed the gas crisis as “artificial” to promote the business of liquefied petroleum (LP) gas.

“People are being forced to buy and use LP gas,” he observed, adding “Titas Gas is defying the energy regulatory body’s order to set up electronic volume corrector metres to ensure a fair share of gas.”

The top brass of Titas Gas is often accused of grave anomalies, against whom the prime minister’s energy adviser repeatedly promised tough action. 

After several failed attempts, Bangladesh entered the LNG era on August 18 this year, when the super-chilled fuel was injected through the gas pipeline in Chittagong, after going through a regasification process. 

At first, around 75mmcfd gas was supplied, which has now increased to 300mmcfd. But as per the deal with Qatar, Bangladesh was supposed to get 500mmcfd gas from the very beginning.

When did LNG supply first come to Bangladesh?

The first consignment of LNG reached Moheshkhali, Cox's Bazar from Qatar on April 24, 2018. But technical glitches and inclement weather caused repeated delays in LNG commissioning.   

The Floating Storage and Regasification Unit (FSRU), owned by US-based Excelerate Energy Bangladesh Ltd, carried 133,000 cubic metres (CM) of lean LNG, in the maiden consignment.

The delivery came in line with a sales and purchase agreement, signed on September 25, 2017, with Qatar’s state-owned energy company, RasGas, for 2.5million tons per year of LNG, priced at 12.5% of the three-month average of Brent, plus an additional $0.5 per unit (1million British Thermal Units) MMBTU.

The LNG, after being re-gasified, was injected from the FSRU, also called an LNG terminal- the first of its kind in Bangladesh- to the 91km pipeline linked to the national network in the Anwara upazila, Chittagong.

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

Considering the overall situation, the government signed the deal with Qatar to import 2.8million tons of LNG annually for the next 15 years. It also inked another deal with Oman for LNG import.