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Bangladesh - 3 weeks ago

Gas supply leakage heighten accident risks

Farhad Chowdhury: Complaints of gas shortage in the whole country including the capital have been facing for a long time. There is no end to complaints especially from residential customers. Due to lack of gas pressure in the line, many people are forced to use LPG. Despite repeated complaints about this, there is no solution.
The reason for this investigation revealed that the gas supply pipes currently used are 25-40 years old. They have thousands of holes. Apart from this, underground pipelines are getting damaged during the development work. Billions of taka of gas is being wasted for these holes. Already, this hole in the gas pipe is behind major accidents like Narayanganj, Moghbazar and Siddique Bazar. Distribution companies work daily to repair holes, but not all repairs are still a major risk. As a result, gas supply has to be rushed. Otherwise, a big explosion can happen again through the gas released through these holes.
Those concerned say that major accidents have already occurred due to the release of gas from the hole. Gas pipes are very old age. Therenormal life is expired.
Holes have been identified and repairing in progress. Recently, companies have conducted surveys to identify holes. The data found in the survey is alarming. On top of that the distribution companies do not have enough gas leak detector machines. As a result, gas supply is forced to be less than the demand. Because more supply will allow more gas to escape through the pores. This will increase the risk of accidents. Besides, wastage will also be increased.
In this situation, the energy department has taken the initiative to rebuild gas pipelines by adding modern technology. The government is going to undertake a big project to change the dilapidated pipeline. This project will start next year. The cost will be approximately Tk 12 thousand crores.
According to Petrobangla sources, 6 companies distributing gas in the country. These companies do not have enough portable gas detector machines to detect leaks in gas pipelines. Titas gas needs 39, there are only 12. KGDCL needs 8, has only 2, BGDCL needs 10, has only 2, JGDCL needs 30, has only 3 and GTCL needs 14 gas detectors, has 12. The distribution companies have detector machines that survey their coverage areas and find thousands of holes.
Throughout 2023, Titas conducts gas pipeline surveys. At that time, the company surveyed 556.2 kilometers long pipeline and found 3,795 holes. Apart from this, the Karnaphuli Gas Distribution Company surveyed only 4.5 kilometers long pipeline and found 849 holes. They are repaired. Other companies have not yet conducted the survey. Petrobangla has ordered to quickly identify the extent of leaks in the gas pipeline and how vulnerable the pipelines are.
According to Titas sources, the company has pipelines of different categories ranging from 50 psi to 150 psi. But Titas is supplying gas there at 25-30 psi pressure. If the gas system loss is 6 percent at 25-30 psi pressure, the system loss is up to 20-25 percent when gas is supplied at full pressure. These are mainly due to old pipelines, illegal tampering with pipelines and leakage of gas through holes at places.
The distribution company says that they are receiving complaints of ‘gas line leaks’ from multiple areas on a daily basis and are trying their best to resolve the issue. Not possible overnight. It will come under control if the holes are repaired and pipelines are re-laid periodically.
A Petrobangla official, on condition of anonymity, said that Titas controlled area is the largest, so it is more vulnerable. Officially, their number of residential customers is more than 2.5 million. Pipeline (as on 30 June 2023) is 13,391.32 km. Over the past 12 years, Titas’ illegal customers have been on the rise. The number of illegal residential customers may exceed 40 lakhs. It has been observed that the lines damaged due to illegal connection and development work are buried without proper repair. This increases the risk. 60 percent of these gas pipelines spread like fishing nets have expired long ago.
Titas says that most of the gas pipelines in the capital Dhaka are 25 years old. Some pipelines are over 40 years old. They are working 24 hours to solve any complaint. With the technical and financial support of NE Climate A/S Denmark, 5 lakh 65 thousand 952 risers/rms of customers were surveyed and 35,252 customers’ risers/rms leakages were repaired on the ground surface of the distribution network. About Tk 18 thousand crore have been fixed for six projects. Out of this, about Tk 12 thousand crorewill be required to implement the pipeline projects.
Energy expert Ijaz Hossain, a former professor of BUET, told that a major accident could be occurred due to a hole in the gas pipe. Distribution companies must be working to prevent this. Fast line holes should be repaired and replaced if necessary.
In this regard, the managing director of gas distribution company Titas, Engineer Harunur Rashid Mollah said in the light of time, gas network is being digitized. Illegal disconnection continues. 30 teams of 10 each are engaged in 3 shifts for emergency maintenance and repair work.
When asked about this, Petrobangla Director (Operation and Mines) Engineer Md. Kamruzzaman Khan said in the light of time, the gas distribution lines are very old. Accidents are happening because of this. They are being refitted, repaired. Everything will not be done at once. Due to development works more leakages are happening. He said Titas’ line is older, so more holes. More holes mean more wastage. Measures are being taken to prevent these.

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