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Gas crisis hits Bangladesh

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Author(s): Pinaki Roy
Jun 30, 2008 | From the print edition

Searching for new gas (Credit: SYED ZAKIR HOSSAIN)the Bangladesh government is mulling over not giving out new gas connections as a measure to check the
depleting supply in the country. The measure comes at a time when the demand of gas is increasing everyday in the country. "We have not
stopped new connections. We are only rationing it because the gas pressure in the pipelines has reduced in many places," says a senior official
from Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company Ltd, the largest gas distribution company in Bangladesh.

Experts say the existing 21 gas fields in the country can meet demand until 2011. But lack of timely and proper government decisions on gas
pipelines and exploration activities, they add, have caused a crisis with a shortfall in supply of more than 100 million cubic feet a day. The other
problem is that more than 90 per cent of Bangladesh's 3,400 mw power is sourced from gas. Experts at Petrobangla and Power Development
Board say the gas crisis hits the country hardest in the summer when demand for power increases to about 4,000 mw. Bangladesh follows a
system where it buys its own gas from foreign companies. Under the product sharing deal, the government has to buy gas from companies at
international rates.

Meanwhile, the government is facing losses because of rising oil prices. The Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation asked for about class='UCASE'>us $991 million from the government to subsidize losses from oil imports for the period July-December 2007. Experts
point out the current energy scenario demands making efforts to explore and develop new oil and gas resources. "Instead of awarding foreign
companies, the government should assign all marginal gas fields to Bangladesh Petroleum Exploration Company (Bapex) to re-invest and
re-explore. Bapex can hire high end oil companies for data collection and even to drill wells," said an energy ministry official.

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