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Dhaka Tribune

Bangladesh starts methanol import from India as alternative fuel solution

If the sale of methanol-mixed fuel starts in the petrol pumps of Bangladesh, the prices of fuel oil can be reduced a lot

Update : 03 Jul 2023, 01:15 PM

Import of methanol, which is a much cheaper and less polluting alternative fuel than octane and diesel, has started from India to Bangladesh. 

The first consignment of methanol produced at a petrochemical plant in Assam, India left on Saturday and crossed the border into Bangladesh on Sunday.

State Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma flagged off the journey of the methanol-carrying truck bound for Bangladesh from the Assam Petrochemical Plant (APL) campus named after Dibrugarh district. 

Important state and central ministers, MLA-MPs and top government officials were also present on the occasion.

Methanol is a low-carbon and hydrogen-bearing fuel, which can be produced from high-ash coal, various types of agricultural waste, carbon dioxide produced in thermal power plants, and various types of natural gas. It is also called by many people as “wood ash”.

Its biggest advantage is that it can be used as a fuel mixed (or separately) with octane or diesel. It costs less and pollution is also less. Many international experts in the energy sector are identifying methanol as the “fuel of the future”.

It is believed that if the sale of methanol-mixed fuel starts in the petrol pumps of Bangladesh, the price of fuel oil can be reduced a lot. This process has already started in several places in India.

For example, in Assam's Tinsukia district, a pilot project of selling a special type of petrol called “M-15” has been started since May last year, the price of which is much lower than normal petrol.

Bangla Tribune

This fuel is named as such because it contains 15% methyl. Studies show that methyl-blended gasoline produces at least 33% less greenhouse gas emissions than regular gasoline.

In fact, trains and ships are also possible to run on methanol. Steps are being taken to that end as well.

India's NITI Aayog (the government think tank that prepares development plans) has also outlined a potential “methyl economy” in the country. India will be able to export methyl to countries like Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan or Sri Lanka, it has been announced in the blue print of NITI Aayog.

In fact, India's Senior Cabinet Minister Nitin Gadkari said last January that Bangladesh has shown interest in importing ethanol (an alternative fuel like methanol that is made from organic sources) from India.

In a conference of Chamber of Commerce CII, Nitin Gadkari said that day: “I had the opportunity to discuss the matter with the prime minister of Bangladesh. Talks have also been held with the Sri Lankan government. Both Bangladesh and Sri Lanka want to import ethanol from India so that they can mix ethanol with petrol and sell it in their respective countries.”

Blending ethanol can also reduce fuel costs and pollution, as is the case with methanol.

Bangla Tribune

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the unit of Assam Petrochemical Plant or APL on April 14, in which the methanol produced in Assam's name plant left for Bangladesh on Saturday. The production capacity of this plant is 500 TPD (tons per day), that is, it is capable of producing up to 500 tons of methyl per day.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who started the journey of the methyl truck to Bangladesh, also claimed that as a result of this move, Assam will emerge as a “petrochem hub” and its commercial relations with neighbouring countries including Bangladesh will also increase.

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