Wednesday, 5 October, 2022

Ensure quick offshore bidding

Ensure quick offshore bidding

It is disappointing that Bangladesh has not been able to explore even a single block of hydrocarbon in the last 10 years in the offshore region since the settlement of maritime boundary disputes with Myanmar and India in 2012 and 2014, despite having a huge potential of the natural gas and oil in the Bay of Bengal. However, a good piece of news is that the government will invite offshore bidding round 2022 in December to explore oil and gas in the Bay of Bengal, says a report of this daily published on the day before yesterday.

With the settlement of boundary dispute, Bangladesh’s right to all fauna and flora under the seabed up to 354 nautical miles from the Chattogram coast has been established. But Bangladesh clearly lags behind its neighbours – India and Myanmar – in terms of taping the potential despite the fact that most of the oil and gas blocks in the Bay of Bengal are expected to be inside the borders of our country. The country’s deep sea remained 'idle' since the maiden deal with an international company turned void last year.

The doctrine of procrastination of the policymakers has to be blamed most for such a situation since the PetroBangla, the government-owned national oil company of Bangladesh responsible for exploring and producing oil, natural gas and other mineral resources, floated the last bidding round eight years back in 2012 through which shallow-water blocks and one deep-water block were awarded to contractors. But not a single exploratory well was drilled by the contractors by this time. Even when oil and gas prices witnessing an upward trend in the international market following the corona virus pandemic, the company did not launch the bid round, which increases the country's dependency on imports of fuel, especially expensive liquefied natural gas.

The ongoing volatility of the international fossil fuel market has again come as a stark reminder of just how important it is for a country to have its own supply of fuel. With oil and gas prices rising manifold and foreign exchange reserves coming under pressure, the government has to opt for countrywide load-shedding, hurting production and causing suffering to the people. Therefore, the policymaker must ensure that they would not postpone their recent plan. Though it is unlikely to deliver any results immediately, it would surely open up possibilities to tap the potential.