Bangabandhu dreamt of self-reliance on energy

Staff Correspondent

Speakers at an online seminar said that Bangabandhu emphasized on decentralizing the energy sector and focus its activities at the centre of all development of the nation.

They said that Bangabandhu had visions on building the nation based on a solid foundation of being self-reliant on energy.

The speakers gathered at the online seminar organized by the Energy Division on Sunday on the occasion of National Energy Security Day.

Speaking on the occasion as the chief guest, the Prime Minister's Energy Adviser Tawfiq-e Elahi Chowdhury said, “We must be serious about optimal use of our energy resources and be more economic in its use. Only then we can manage an efficient use of our fuel and hence make energy available to more people.”

Elahi mentioned about limitations of extracting off-shore gas and excavating underground coal. “We have to be more rationale in use of our natural fossil fuels. Extracting natural gas is too expensive while there are problems with excavating coal. So, we have to find alternative resources,” he said.

The Energy Advisor said, “The Father of the Nation enacted the Maritime Act in a short time. Many countries did not do it at that time. On one hand, as he worked on contemporary issues, on the other hand, he also paid equal attention to what Bangladesh will need in the future.”

The State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid said, "Bangladesh was plunged into darkness following the assassination of Bangabandhu in 1975. August 9 is a very important day for us. Bangabandhu then had purchased 5 gas fields in a war-torn country. The present government is working on his visions of energy resources and his philosophies of becoming independent on energy.”

Hamid mentioned about policies on short-term, mid-term and long-term plans for energy and said that globally energy use is becoming more efficient with the focus on using multi-purpose fuel use.

"During the BNP-government rule, India was supposed to have a pipeline from Myanmar for gas supply," he said. But the BNP rulers did not allow the pipeline to be built reportedly on the advice of Pakistan. By doing this, we put ourselves behind 20-25 years. The government is trying to provide fuel to everyone at an affordable price,” he added. 

Shahiduzzaman Sarkar, Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources, said, "We need to focus more on our own sources."

Senior Secretary of the Energy and Mineral Resources Division, Anisur Rahman said, “We will be able to supply gas from Srikail East to the pipeline by next December. We have used BAPEX a lot. BAPEX is more capable now than ever before.”

Engineer Md Kamruzzaman, former managing director of Rupantarita Prakritik Gas Company Limited, presented the keynote paper. He said "We need to be affordable, reliable and sustainable in terms of fuel supply.”

He said, "It has been possible to increase gas production till 2018. Now this production has begun to decline. If we don’t continue development in this sector right now, then there will be a big gap between demand and supply. Which needs to be eliminated.”

"We need to gradually reduce our dependence on fossil fuels," said Kamruzzaman adding, “Now 6 million tons of fuel oil is imported every year. That's why we have to consider using alternative resources."

Among others, Petrobangla Chairman A B M Abdul Fattah, BPC Chairman Shamsur Rahman, Forum for Energy Reporters Bangladesh Chairman Arun Karmakar, ‘Energy and Power’ magazine Editor Mollah Amzad Hossain, energy expert Dr M Tamim were also present in the seminar. 

According to Energy Division, soon after independence, on August 9, 1975, the government led by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Father of the Nation, had purchased five gas fields from multinational oil drilling company, Shell Oil Company. 

Only 4.5-million-pound sterling (17-18 crore taka of that period) was paid to get Bakhrabad, Titas, Rashidpur, Kailashtila and Habiganj gas fields. There is no other example of purchasing such a huge reserve of gas fields for such a low price at that time.

That is why August 9 is considered as a turning point for the country's energy sector. From 2010 August 9 is being observed as 'National Energy Security Day' to commemorate that historic moment. 

An energy division official said that in January 2009 the daily production of natural gas was only 1,744 million cubic feet, which has now increased to 3,250 million cubic feet and so the country's industrialization is now expanding.