Getting smooth gas supply
Mahfuz Emran : The private power producers are in the competition to get fulltime, required gas supply from the government gas transmission and distribution companies at any means and ways. Most of them are getting highest amount of gas supply managing the officials of the gas companies.
At Meghnaghat in Narayanganj, Summit, Unique and Reliance Group have built three gas-based power plants with a capacity of about 2,000 MW. Although these power plants were ready about six months ago, they could not go into commercial production due to lack of gas supply. According to some sources related to the energy sector, there is now intense competition between the power plants to get gas supply.
A meeting was held in the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources last week. There was a detailed discussion about the supply of gas to the new gas-based power plants in Meghnaghat. At that time representatives of power plants were also present there. Besides, Chairman of Summit Power, Muhammad Aziz Khan himself met with Minister of State for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid and discussed the matter.
A reliable source said the meeting sought additional supply beyond the gas allocated to PDB’s plants for commencement of commercial production (COD) at Summit Power’s power plant at Meghnaghat. Although it is informed by the energy department, it is not possible to give additional allocation beyond the prescribed gas to the power plant. Only if rationing of supply gas to PDB is possible can it be supplied to the summit power plant.
At this time, it was decided to supply the required gas for the testing and commissioning of Reliance’s power plant at the end of this month.
Confirming the matter, at least two officials of the energy department and power plants told Daily Industry, on condition of anonymity, that in the meeting, the officials of the energy department, Petrobangla, PDB and Titas had different opinions about the supply of gas to the power plants. However, at some point after the election, it was decided to bring the Unique Group power plant into commercial production. And no one has been able to reach a conclusion on when the Summit power plant will go into commercial production. However, it was decided that Summit Power Plant in Meghnaghat will get gas if PDB can provide gas based on rationing.
Aziz Khan, Chairman of Summit Power, was contacted to discuss the issue of gas connection but was not immediately available for comment. However, the officials of the power department said that they are reluctant to bring the power plants into commercial production now due to lack of gas resources. There was already an informal decision to open these centers once the construction of the new pipeline was completed.
However, there is no clear information on when the construction of the new pipeline will be completed. According to the relevant sources, Gas Transmission Company Limited (GTCL) is currently constructing a new gas transmission pipeline to supply gas to Meghnaghat. For this reason, the work of the project undertaken to build a 42-inch pipeline from Bakhrabad in Comilla to Haripur via Meghnaghat in Narayanganj is still ongoing. The project started in 2021 and be completed by June this year. However, according to the latest GTCL data, the physical progress of the project is 3 percent. Financial progress is still zero.
If the power plants fail to go into commercial production on time, there is a big risk with the repayment of the bank loan, said those concerned. According to the information of the power department, the Indian company Reliance Power has constructed a gas-based power plant with a capacity of 718 MW at Meghnaghat. Summit Group, a private company, has built a power plant with a capacity of 583 MW. The power plant of Unique Group has a capacity of 584 MW. The three power plants were supposed to be fully operational by August 31, 2023. Even after a few months, PDB and Petrobangla have not come to any decision regarding gas supply.
These power plants require 322 million cubic feet of gas per day to run at full capacity. Of this, 192 million cubic feet of gas is required daily for Summit and Unit power plants. Reliance’s power plants require 130 million cubic feet per day. But due to gas shortage there is no supply as per demand for gas based power plants. Moreover, the issue of gas supply to these new power plants has now become a headache for the Energy Department and PDB.
According to Petrobangla’s gas production report, the daily gas demand of gas-based power plants in the country is currently 2,240 million cubic feet. And to keep PDB’s power supply management normal, the Energy Department has allocated 1,200 million cubic feet. However, out of the allocated gas, Petrobangla is now able to supply 744 million cubic feet of gas.
Talking to the officials related to the power projects of Summit and Unique, it is known that the testing of the equipment and parts of the two power plants was completed two months ago. For this, each power plant required an average of 35 million cubic feet of gas. They got the supply. Now when the gas supply to the power plants is confirmed, the reliability test will start. Then the centers can go into commercial production.
On the other hand, Reliance’s power plant is yet to start testing and commissioning. Although it has been prepared before the Summit and Unique power plants. The 713 MW power plant is now awaiting gas supply.
When asked about the matter, a related senior official of Reliance told on the condition of anonymity, “Necessary approval has been received from PDB for testing and commissioning.” The center will go into gas commissioning in the last week of this month. After that, subject to gas supply, the center will go into production.
The country does not have the necessary gas to run these large and sophisticated power plants. In addition, half of the total gas-based capacity of 11,500 has to be installed in the country. Despite the gas crisis, how these power plants got permission and who gave the gas guarantee, energy stakeholders have raised questions.
Energy expert and BUET professorTamim said, “How these big power plants were approved knowing the gas supply crisis?” Who has guaranteed gas in these power plants? These should be seen first. Power plants are now burdened with generation capacity with huge investments. The only way to start these power plants is to shut down PDB’s inefficient gas-based power plants. It should be checked whether these new power plants can be run with the gas that will be saved from there and whether there is such a pipeline or infrastructure. If there is, then considering the cost, the production of these power plants will be much less.
Special Correspondent: President of the Bangladesh Insurance Forum (BIF), BM Yusuf Ali, ha…