Myanmar and India implemented oil-gas exploration operation in their area of Bay of Bengal but Bangladesh is far behind
Zahid Hossain Biplob: Experts have underscored the need for exploring the untapped offshore gas form the Bay of Bengal with a view to reducing its ever-increasing dependency on imported energy and meeting the increasing demand of the country.
They said, there is huge opportunity for earning from oil and gas fields. Myanmar has implemented oil-gas exploration operation in its sea area, whereas Bangladesh is far behind. After settling the dispute with Bangladesh, India and Myanmar have started extracting huge quantities of gas from their designated parts of the Bay of Bengal. Bangladesh could still not start the survey in the sea due to lack of proper planning. The country is now importing LNG due to lack of new gas.
The government needs to concentrate on gas exploration within the country instead of importing gas at a high price, they recommended. Bureaucratic complexity is hindering gas exploration from the Bay of Bengal, they claimed.
Petrobangla sources said, all the remaining gas will run out in 2041. The amount of gas extraction from fields will start to decrease from the year of 2025. Petrobangla said, it can be increased for lifting of gas until 2020. Then it will be stable in 2024-25. After then, it will decrease.
According to Petrobangla, the demand will rise to 4,770 million cubic feet in 2024-25, whereas the production capacity will be 2,196 miilion cubic feet from the current gas fields in the country. In next fiscal year the demand and production capacity will be 4,910 and 1,702 million cubic feet. In the same way demand and production ratio will be 5,200 and 1,054 million cubic feet in 2028-29. Gradually it will decrease, and if the new gas fields are not discovered during this period, gas production will be zero in 2041.
Bangladesh has now 48 offshore blocks, of which 11 are shallow sea blocks and 15 are deep sea blocks. Since the maritime settlement with Myanmar, Bangladesh has activated only 3 shallow sea and 2 deep sea blocks under Production Sharing Contract (PSC) with IOCs.
There are total 48 blocks of which 26 offshore blocks allocated for oil and gas exploration in the country. Of these, 22 are on the land and 26 are in the sea. Among the sea blocks, 11 in the shallow sea and 15 in the deep sea. Chevron Bangladesh is lifting gas from Block 12, 13 and 14 on the land. Chris Energy is raising gas from Block 9, ie, Bangura. On the other hand, Santos-Cris Energy, ONGC and Pesco Diyu are working in 4 blocks of the Sea.
However, the gas exploration activities in the country have remained almost halted as drilling of wells is facing major setback due to complexities over land acquisition, said insiders of the energy division.
An official said drilling of 28 wells are supposed to be completed by this year but it will face delay as the authorities are yet to acquire land for the drilling work.
State-run Bangladesh Petroleum Exploration and Production Company Ltd (Bapex) took up a project ‘Rupkalpa-1’ in 2016 to drill three exploratory wells and two development wells.
Implementation of the project is supposed to be completed by the middle of the current year, but there has been little progress in the work, the official said.
“We have just got land to install rigs at Salda North-1 and Srikail East-1 wells,” he added.
Bapex hopes to complete drilling of Salda North-1 well by June or July this year, an official of the energy and mineral resources division said.
Drilling of Srikail East-1 well is expected to be completed by the end of the current year and after its completion, Bapex will go for drilling Srikail North-2 next year.
Besides, drilling of Hararganj-1 and Kasba-2 development wells has remained halted due to delay in acquiring land, another official concerned said.
Bapex undertook Rupkalpa-1 project in 2016 to drill five wells with an estimated cost of Tk 477.83 crore. The cost of drilling each well is Tk 95.56 crore.
The state-run agency drilled four wells in the same year through a Russian company at a cost of Tk 1,060 crore and per well drilling cost was Tk 265 crore.
Implementation of the Bapex-sponsored project was delayed by over one and a half years due to land acquisition problem.
Foreign company get land quickly for high-cost drilling of gas wells, another official said.
Bapex took up the project to drill 28 wells by this year. Drilling of most of them will be delayed due to complexities in land acquisition process.
Only five to six wells have been drilled. Bapex is hopeful of drilling eight of the remaining ones in the current year. The government has a plan to drill 108 wells by 2021.
Energy experts said that government’s plans to drill 108 wells by 2021 are highly ambitious. “It’s unrealistic to drill more than 3-4 wells a year”
“Bangladesh remains one of the least-explored petroleum country in the world and the offshore here is even less explored,” energy expert Prof Badrul Imam of Dhaka University said. “Drilling of 10 exploratory wells per year is an over ambitious and may lead to some unnecessary dry holes here,” the expert pointed out.