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Bangladesh - December 9, 2023

Country facing severe gas crisis

Staff Correspondent: For a long time, entrepreneurs were complaining about not getting gas supply at the required pressure to continue production in industries. They said that now this crisis has intensified. There is a severe crisis in the residential sector as well. Consumers are not getting enough gas for cooking. Crowds of CNG-powered vehicles outside CNG filling stations. Gas is not available even after waiting for a long time.
The supply of gas in the country is always less than the demand. However, the consumption of electricity production is reduced in winter, so the gas crisis is felt relatively less. But this time the gas crisis has become severe at the beginning of winter.
Senior officials of Petrobangla and gas distribution company Titas said that this problem will not be solved soon. They say a floating LNG terminal has been shut down, resulting in reduced gas supply. Again, the supply to the large fertilizer factories of the country has also been increased. Due to this, gas supply has decreased in the capital and surrounding areas.
The country’s gas sector has been in deficit compared to demand for a long time. According to the data of Petrobangla, the daily demand of gas in the country is 430 million cubic feet. Although the total supply to the national grid during normal times is 3 billion cubic feet. At present, the supply from US company Accelerate Energy’s floating terminal at Cox’s Bazar’s Maheshkhali has stopped, which has come down to 259 million cubic feet.
About 40 percent of the total gas supply in the country is used for electricity. Now it has come down to 34 percent. Even a month ago, the daily consumption of gas for electricity was around 120 crore cubic feet. 88 crore cubic feet were supplied to this sector yesterday. On November 5, the daily supply of gas to the country’s fertilizer factories was 120 million cubic feet. Now it has increased to 15 million cubic feet. Yesterday, the total gas supply from the national grid to industry, residential and transport sectors was 156 million cubic feet.
Acknowledging the crisis, a senior official of distribution company Titus told the media on condition of anonymity, “It is true that there is a gas crisis. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, supply has been reduced due to one of the two LNG terminals not being in operation. Secondly, due to increased supply to fertilizer factories, it has decreased somewhat in industrial areas including Narayanganj. There will be no solution soon.’
Due to reduced supply of gas, industries are in crisis with production. Ashulia, Gazipur, Bhaluka of Mymensingh and industrial areas of Narayanganj, it has been found that although the gas pressure crisis has been present throughout the year, it has now become more serious. In addition to disrupting production, the financial pressure of industrialists is also increasing.
When asked about this, Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA) Vice President Fazlul Haque told Daily Industry, “Factory owners are upset about the gas pressure.” It continues. I am not getting any solution from any office. In many factories the pressure has dropped to 1-2 psi (a unit of gas pressure measurement). The factory cannot run with this. 70 percent of factories in Narayanganj are closed due to gas pressure problems.
The gas crisis has now become the most complex in the industrial city of Narayanganj. Entrepreneurs of more than eight hundred factories in the city are in danger due to lack of fuel supply as per demand. Especially there is a severe gas crisis in more than 150 dyeing factories. These factories are completely dependent on gas. The businessmen there have expressed their anger over not getting uninterrupted supply of gas even with the increased price.
Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) Executive President Mohammad Hatim told Daily Industry, “On behalf of BKMEA, we have sent a letter to Petrobangla, Energy Department and other concerned parties regarding the issue of gas crisis. I also met the chairman of Petrobangla. We have informed about the financial losses in this sector. But we have no assurance of uninterrupted gas supply. We think that the government is proceeding with the wrong policy regarding the energy sector. Ensuring the supply of gas to the industrial sector is essential considering the economic importance. But I can’t see it. If this continues, the industrial owners will be out of business.
The severity of the gas crisis has also increased in the residential sector. For the past two weeks, customers in the capital have not been able to light the stove for a large part of the day. Especially from 6 am to 11 pm the intensity of the crisis is high. After 1-2 hours gas pressure is available, but gas is not available anywhere even in the afternoon. Due to this, the users of the gas supplied in the pipeline have suffered greatly.
A major portion of the gas supplied in the country is used in private cars and vehicles. Currently, long queues of CNG-powered private cars and autorickshaws are seen outside CNG filling stations for gas. Especially, there is a jam of CNG-powered vehicles waiting to take gas all day outside the CNG filling stations of Mirpur 12, Kazipara, Rampura Hajipara, Malibagh and Caravan Bazaar in the capital. Talking to the drivers of some such vehicles, it is known that many times while taking gas, it is seen that there is no pressure. Each transport takes longer to fill up with gas than before.
Talking to the leaders of the CNG filling stations entrepreneurial organization, it is known that there are more than five hundred CNG filling stations across the country. Most stations do not have gas pressure. Gas is not available properly even though it is managed by rationing. The machines of these filling stations are supposed to get 600 cubic meters of gas per hour. There is a maximum of 160 to 170 cubic meters of gas per hour. And the pressure is supposed to get 15 psi, but it gets 6-7 psi. Sometimes it comes down to 2-3 psi.
Profit margins in the filling station business are already relatively low. In the current situation, it has become difficult to raise the operating expenses from this business. Forced, many entrepreneurs are now withdrawing investment from this business.
Bangladesh CNG Filling Station and Conversion Workshop Owners Association Secretary General Farhan Noor told the media, “CNG filling station business owners are now disappointed. The stations are not getting proper gas in this small margin business. We have informed the concerned government about them repeatedly but we have not got any solution. CNG filling stations are currently going through severe gas shortage. Gas is available very little. Sometimes the pressure is coming down to 2-3 psi.
When asked about the overall issue, outgoing director of operations department of Petrobangla, Engineer Kamruzzaman Khan said Daily Industry, “There has always been a shortage of gas due to the supply being less than the demand.” But it was possible to keep it at one stage as the LNG supply was fine. Now a terminal is not in operation. Due to which the gas crisis has increased somewhat. Besides, due to winter there are some complications in gas supply pipelines, but it is very minor. Apart from this, there is no other reason behind the current crisis.

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