Three months into the import of country’s first consignment of liquefied natural gas (LNG), the authorities concerned are still struggling to supply the gas to the national gas network.
This delay is attributed to a tube leakage and officials are now saying that it may take 20 more days to get the LNG facilities ready to supply the imported gas to the national network.
“We’ll require some more times. We hope we can be able to supply the LNG to the network within 15-20 days”, M Quamruzzaman, managing director of Rupantarita Prakritik Gas Company Limited (RPGCL), told.
RPGCL, a subsidiary of the state-owned hydrocarbon corporation Petrobangla, has been entrusted with the responsibility to import and market the imported LNG across the country through the Gas Transmission Company of Bangladesh (GTCL), another Petrobangla subsidiary.
Under an agreement with the government, US company, Excelerate Energy has set up a floating storage and re-gasification unit (FSRU), known as LNG terminal, at Moheshkhali area of Cox’s Bazar.
Upon the completion of LNG terminal development, RPGCL started import of LNG from Qatar under a long term agreement.
Interestingly, the very first LNG consignment came from Qatar through the Excelerate’s ship which has been developed as an FSRU in a South Korean dockyard.
Officials said the Exelerate’s ship first went to Qatar and filled it up with LNG and then moved to Bangladesh.
It arrived in Moheshkhali on April 24 to permanently anchor there to be used as FSRU to store LNG and re-gasify and supply it to national gas network.
But since its arrival, officials said, the FSRU has been facing technical glitch to offload the gas. The technicians identified leakages in its undersea-tube connection during test-run of the facilities.
A top official of the RPGCL informed that there is a 20-metre long flexible tube between the FSRU and a 7-km long undersea pipeline laid from a GTCL’s Moheshkhali zero-point metering station.
During the test run, the RPGCL officials found that the facilities are not working because of the leakages in the joints of the tube.
The officials said the Exelerate Energy’s experts are now repairing such glitches and conducting pre-commission and commission of the facilities.
They said the recent rough weather in the Bay of Bengal has made the job difficult for the divers to repair the leakages.
“Though some works have been done, still it will take few more days to get all the facilities ready to deliver the LNG to the national gas network”, said an official, who preferred not to be quoted.
RPGCL officials said the Excelerate Energy’s FSRU carried 133,000 cubic meter, or cm, of lean LNG to supply to the country.
They said Bangladesh will annually import 2.5 million tonnes of LNG from Qatar under a sales and purchase agreement (SPA) from its state-owned RasGas at a price at 12.5 per cent of the three-month average of Brent plus an additional US$ 0.5 per unit (1 MMBTU).
The import of LNG was initiated by the government more than seven years ago against the backdrop of nagging gas crisis. But it took a huge time to implement the project.
So far local Summit Group and US-based Excelerate Energy are allowed to set up two separate FSRUs near Maheshkhali island. Summit’s FSRU is expected to come into operation in October next.
Besides agreement with Qatar’s RasGas, Bangladesh also signed LNG import deals with Oman Trading International, or OTI, to import around 1.0 million tonne per year of LNG for next 10 years.
The government is also in negotiations with other suppliers import LNG on short-term basis.
Many energy experts said costly import of LNG will push up gas price.
Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) last month held public hearing on the proposals placed by the Petrobangla and its subsidiary distribution companies to raise gas price on an average of upto 75 percent.
As per BERC Act, the energy regulator is supposed to announce its decision within 90 days from the hearing.