Industrial production has been hit hard, leaving exporters to opt for air cargo for shipments. The gas supply at all CNG filling stations halved forcing owners to keep their stations closed for six hours a day
Acute gas crisis caused by a technical glitch in the LNG supply line forced three power plants in Chittagong to shutdown, as the supply disruption is taking toll on industrial and commercial activities.
Industrial production has been hit hard, leaving exporters to opt for air cargo for shipments. The gas supply at all CNG filling stations halved forcing owners to keep their stations closed for six hours a day.
The gas crisis has taken a turn for the worse from Saturday evening when a valve of the off-shore LNG terminal at Matarbari stopped functioning properly.
Speaking to the Dhaka Tribune, Khaiz Ahmed Mozumder, managing director (MD) of the Karnaphuli Gas Distribution Company Ltd (KGDCL) said: “The current gas supply to Chittagong is around 215mmcfd (million cubic feet per day) against a demand of 450-500mmcfd.”
“The gas supply was 225mmcfd till 11am on Thursday. On Wednesday, the supply was 215mmcfd. On Tuesday, it was 211mmcfd,” said the MD of the KGDCL, a subsidiary of Petrobangla.
The KGDCL now supplies gas to 597,662 consumers. Of them, 593,574 are household ones; 2,788 are commercial and 1,045 are industrial.
3 power plants, CUFL shut down
Prabir Kumar Sarkar, chief engineer (distribution) of the Power Development Board’s (PDB) Chittagong south zone, said the power generation stopped since Wednesday at the two units of (150MW and 225 MW) the Shikalbaha Power Plant and two units of (320 MW) the Raozan Power Plant due to the gas crunch.
As an alternative measure, a unit of the Shikalbaha Power Plant has been kept functioning by furnace oil instead of gas.
The state-owned Chittagong Urea Fertiliser Factory Ltd (CUFL) also temporarily stopped production after the gas crisis worsened on Sunday, said a high-up of the factory, requesting anonymity.
Long queues of vehicles at CNG refueling stations
While visiting different CNG refueling stations in the city, long queues of vehicles were seen.
Md Harun, a CNG-run auto-rickshaw driver waiting for his turn at a filling station in the Sholoshahar area said: “Usually it takes 10-15 minutes to refill. Now it takes more than hour. Sometimes, it so happens that I have to return empty- handed after waiting for hours. The long wait at the queue takes its toll on my daily income.”
“We have been experiencing low pressure of gas for the last four days. For the last few days, the gas pressure has been half than usual. Typically, we provide gas 1500-2500 vehicles. Now we can provide gas to only as many as 500 vehicles,” said Atiqur Rahman Khan, in-charge of fossil, a CNG filling station in the Sholoshahar area.
Talking to the Dhaka Tribune, Faridul Alam, general secretary, Chittagong chapter of Bangladesh CNG Filling Station & Conversion Workshop Owners’ Association said, “We have decided to suspend the services at the refueling stations of Chittagong for six hours from 3pm. The decision was taken on Wednesday due to sharp fall in gas supply.”
There are a total of 65 CNG refueling stations under the association in Chittagong.
RMG sector feels the pinch
Md Ferdous, vice president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) said that the owners of apparel industries might fail to meet the deadlines of work orders and shipments due to the ongoing acute gas crunch.
“As you know, this is the peak season for the apparel sector. The gas crisis has come as a jolt for us. If we fail to meet deadlines, we will have to opt for air shipment which will push up the cost,” said the BGMEA leader.
CAB gravely concerned over gas crisis
The Consumers’ Association of Bangladesh (CAB) has expressed grave concern over the gas crisis.
Speaking to the Dhaka Tribune, CAB’s Central Vice President SM Nazer Hossain said: “The ongoing acute gas crunch will take a heavy toll on trade and commerce of the port city. Therefore, the crisis should be resolved without delay. Otherwise, the people will lose confidence in service-providing agencies. Accidents may happen any time but the authorities concerned should have been prepared and had alternatives to deal with any emergency.”
Crisis may linger for another week
The ongoing gas crisis is likely to linger for at least another week as engineers are finding it difficult to fix the technical problem in an LNG supply line in Cox’s Bazar.
The supply got a boost since August 18 when the KGDCL started feeding 300mmcfd liquefied natural gas (LNG) from a ship anchored on the Bay of Bengal through the Matarbari reservoir at Moheshkhali.
The ship carrying Bangladesh’s first imported consignment of 1.37 lakh cubic feet of LNG from Qatar anchored in the Bay on April 24. Since then several deadlines had expired for gas transmission to the reservoir due to technical problems. Finally, on August 18, the supply began in Chittagong.
Engineer Md Quamruzzaman, managing director, Rupantarita Prakritik Gas Company Limited said the glitch is expected to be fixed by November 15, as the required machineries, equipments, manpower, and divers are being made available . l