At the same time that the country's overall daily natural gas production witnessed a fall of 79.2 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd) in last one year, the import of liquefied natural gas (LNG) registered a rise by 85.9 mmcfd.

This is revealed in Petrobangla data against the reality that currently 20 percent of the total gas supply has to be met by import while the country is consuming gas of about 2,898.8 mmcfd against a demand for 4610 mmcfd.

A comparison of data from Petrobangla-the state-owned hydrocarbon corporation-shows that the country produced 2,898.8 mmcfd gas on December 2 this year against 2,978.0 mmcfd on the same day in 2020.

The production capacity, however remained static at 3,760 mmcfd as it did not witnessed any fall or rise in last one year against the backdrop of lack of exploration activities.

The data shows the country witnessed only 6.2 mmcfd increase in the gas production at the government-run 18 gas fields as their daily production was recorded at 851.7 mmcfd against 845.5 mmcfd in 2020.

On the other hand, the production at the international oil company-operated 4 gas fields fell by 171.3 mmcfd as they produced 1499.2 mmcfd against the 1670.5 mmcfd in the same period.

The import, however, registered a rise by 85.9 mmcfd to 547.9 mmcfd on December 2 in 2021 from 462.0 mmcfd in the same day 2020 against an import capacity of 1000 mmcfd which was also the same in 2020.

Energy experts have been blaming the government's lack of interest in local hydrocarbon exploration, coupled with a seeming eagerness toward import of LNG, for the current situation.

According to the annual report published by the International Group of LNG Importers (GIIGNL), Bangladesh ranked 15th among the nations in the world that increased their LNG imports most in 2020.

Expressing grave concern over the country's energy situation, energy expert and former professor of Chemical Engineering Department of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet) Dr Ijaz Hossain said Bangladesh is moving towards a dangerous situation as Petrobangla has failed to conduct necessary exploration in hydrocarbon sector.

"Currently, we're importing 20-25 percent of gas as LNG from abroad. If there's no discovery within the next 10 years, we will have to import more than 90 percent gas from foreign sources," he told UNB.

"The government has to ensure at least 15 percent drilling -- 5 drilling by Petrobangla and 10 drilling by foreign companies -- to avert the future crisis.

Dr Ijaz also said there might be the influence of vested interest groups for increasing LNG import, but the government has to take the right decision to increase exploration works.

As per the country's Gas Master Plan 2017, the demand will increase to 5257 MMCFD in 2022-23, 6228 MMCFD in 2024-25 to meet the needs of different sectors, including power and industry, in line with average 7 percent economic growth.

According to a forecast by Petrobangla, the country's gas production from the local fields will be depleting and imports will continue to rise to meet the growing demand in power, industry and other sectors.

Petrobangla's Annual Report 2020 says the country's total initial recoverable proven plus probable gas reserve of 27 fields has been estimated to be at 28.29 trillion cubic feet (TCF). Up to December, 2020, as much as 18.24 TCF gas was produced, leaving only 10.05 TCF of recoverable gas in 2P category. Currently, 20 gas fields are in production with 105 wells on-stream.

Energy expert and professor of the BUET's petroleum and mineral resources engineering department Dr M Tamim said current situation is the result of the Petrobangla's failure to make any initiative for exploration in last 7 years since the country's maritime boundary disputes with neighbours were settled in 2014.

The Petrobangla data reveals that the four gas field operated by US-based company Chevron and UK-based Tullow have been producing about 40 percent of the country's total gas from their four fields-Chevron's Jalalabad (209.8 mmcfd), Maulavibazar (19.6 mmcfd), Bibiyana (1200 mmcfd) and Tullow's Bangora (90.9 mmcfd).

The state-owned Petrobangla has been operating 18 gas fields of which Titas has been producing the highest amount of 396.4 mmcfd which is followed by 158 mmcfd.

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