Non-stop power supply to be ensured for irrigation

The government is going to import more Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) from the spot market in a bid to generate sufficient power to ensure uninterrupted electricity supply during the upcoming irrigation season and the holy month of Ramadan.

According to the projection of the power division, the country’s highest electricity demand will be 14,500 megawatt (MW) during the upcoming summer. Supply of around 1550 million cubic feet (mmcf) of gas per day is needed to generate sufficient power. Without supply of the amount of gas, it will be difficult to keep electricity generation normal.

At a recent meeting, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's Energy Adviser Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury directed supply of uninterrupted electricity in the upcoming agricultural season.

He said the import of LNG from the spot market should be continued to keep the power generation in order.

"We have bought two lots of LNG from the spot market to keep our LNG imports normal. We hope to buy one more lot of LNG from the spot market. If at any time the supply of LNG increases, we will reduce the gas production of the country. We have to look at all aspects of power generation, transmission and distribution,” Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury said. 

However, Bangladesh is facing a serious gas crisis. Currently, some 22 power plants having a total capacity of around 2800MW of electricity are shut down due to shortage of gas. 

A senior official of the Power Cell said, due to the gas crisis last summer, ‘We could not run 3,000 MW of gas-fired power plants. This time the target has been set to generate 7,650 MW of electricity from gas. Currently an average of 800 million cubic feet of gas is being supplied. This supply will need to be increased by another 750 million cubic feet. Besides, 4,570 MW of furnace oil, 750 MW of coal, 50 MW of renewable energy (hydro and solar) and 1,050 MW of electricity will be imported from India.

Energy expert, Professor Ijaz Hossain said that the demand side management was not done properly. There are many differences between our summer and winter demand for electricity. In summer, our demand will go up to a maximum of 15,000 MW. When winter comes again, our demand comes down to 6000 megawatts. Due to the demand for electricity in summer and winter, many power plants have to sit idle, which is very expensive. We have to think about how to reduce it.’

Bangladesh imported liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the international spot market for the first time, taking advantage of lower global fuel price amid the growing demand for local gas consumption.

The Vitol Asia Pte delivered its first cargo of 138,000 cubic metres of LNG at Cox's Bazar’s Moheshkhali LNG terminal and completed the unloading last October.

Spot market is a public market in which financial instruments or commodities are traded for immediate delivery. Spot market for LNG was developed over the past several years with gluts of LNG output alongside the growth of the emerging markets for LNG.

Earlier, the government planned to buy 3,490,200 MMBTus (million British thermal units) of LNG from Vitol Asia at $3.8321 per MMBTu at a total cost of Tk 132.93 crore, saving the country at least Tk 30 crore.

Sources at the Energy Division said with rising demand for gas in power generation and industrial sectors, Bangladesh sees a drop in its gas reserves. 

Against the backdrop, the government decided to import LNG in 2010 to meet the energy deficit, and started importing LNG in 2018.

After that, the government allowed more gas supply to the compressed industrial factories, resulting in more applications for gas connection to the distribution companies.

Bangladesh also signed a deal with Oman to buy LNG with the country’s import expected to reach 10 million tonnes a year by 2023.

Meanwhile, more than half a dozen local and foreign companies expressed interest to set up LNG-based power plants in the country with a combined capacity to generate 13,083MW electricity under unsolicited deals, the official confirmed.

Besides, the government planned to construct a land-based LNG terminal with a capacity of 1,000 million cubic feet a day in Moheshkhali by 2023.