The government is mulling going into large-scale exploration to find out new gas reserves both in offshore and onshore areas of the country. As part of the plan it is going to sign an agreement with Russian state-owned company Gazprom. Sources from Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry said the government has agreed in principle to sign seven separate agreements with Gazprom to carry out searches for gas-mineral exploration in maritime area and on land of the country.
“Following repeated urges made by the country’s fuel experts to search for new gas fields instead of increasing fuel import, the government has decided to make an all-out effort exploring new gas fields’-energy division official said. Experts observed that Gazprom’s assistance will bring new enthusiasm to the exploration of new gas reserves as the company has a global reputation in geological exploration, production, transportation, storage, processing and sales of gas.
According to the agreements, the Russian company would carry out gas well drillingin block number 22 at Chattogram Hill Tracts, Srikail, Sunetra, Shailkupa, Mobarakpur, Chhatak and Bhola gas fields and conduct seismic survey in Bhola gas field to estimate reserve. A top official fromenergy and mineral resources division said we have been instructed by the government in this regard and draft of agreements have been prepared already. It would be finalised through discussion within few days.
Both the parties are interested to sign the agreements without any delay, he added. It has been known that Gazprom is demanding $16 crore for excavation in five gas fields. Moreover, the company is demanding about $3.5 crore for conducting two and three-dimensional seismic surveysin 22 of the 26 blocks in the Bay of Bengal, covering 35,000 km line.
Mentionable, the government has been considering to conduct two and three-dimensional seismic surveys in the Bay. But it was never conducted. Recently the government finally decided to conduct the surveys with assistance from globally reputed companies. In this regard, Petrobangla Chairman MdRuhul Amin saidthe government is stressing on gas exploration. To accelerate the search, decision has been taken to sign agreements with Gazprom. Some experts, however, opined that Gazprom is being awarded the responsibility without proper scrutiny.
They said the responsibility of exploration could be awarded to Bapex to increase its overall capacity as well as to do the job spending lesser amount. It could be given to a foreign company through open tender. Sources said two years ago, Bapex carried out a 600-KML 3D seismic survey across Bhola region and got some positive signs of gas. After the survey, Bapexproposed to explore two wells—at Shahbazpur East 1 and Bhola (North)— spendingTk 156 crore.
In 2016, Bapex proposed Tk 78.41 crore for Shahbazpur East-1 and Gazprom proposed Tk 131.18 crore for the same job. For the Bhola (North) well project, Bapex wanted to complete the project with an amount of Tk 78.41 crore whereas Gazprom proposed a sum of Tk 139.79 crore. Finally, the Energy Division awarded the project to drill two wells in Bhola to Gazprom without assigning any reason.
Sources said Gazprom has drilled 17 exploratory and development wells in Bangladesh since 2013. The government's expenditure on the drilling these wells was around Tk14,000 crore. The work was given to Gazprom by special provision without tender.