Engr. Khondkar Abdus Saleque:
Government of Grand Alliance enters into last year of the present term. Usually any democratic government endeavor to implement most of its election pledges within first four years of its five year term. The last year is usually spent on critical analysis of its achievement and failures in preparation for the next general election. If we discuss on broader term present government scored several milestone achievements in Agriculture ,Education ,Health, Poverty alleviation ,GDP Growth, IT and other areas .But it must also accept that the promises and pledges of the government of making significant improvement of power energy supply failed to bring any visible change. Significant addition of new power and notable increase of gas production could not eliminate Power and energy crisis of Bangladesh. Actual Power demand would jump to about 8000 -8500 MW during ensuing irrigation season and following summer .We know deficit will also rise about to over 2000 MW as it will be impossible to generate consistently more than 6000MW even if additional gas is diverted at the expense of shutting down Urea Fertilizer plants and rationing gas of all other connected consumers.
Power Sector Mega Plan is nose diving. Load shedding free Bangladesh by 2012could not be achieved. Just passed cold winter witnessed severe gas supply shortage. Dry irrigation season may witness massive power load shedding.LNG import initiative is stuck in quick sand Imported coal based major power plants initiatives are also going nowhere .All mega projects of major power generation, gas production enhancement and transmission system expansion works are in highly critical state .Finding no other alternative Government is compelled to extend lopsided contracts of rental power plants creating further dent to national economy. Too much hyped, too little achieved. Power and energy situation will play a major role in the next general election. Government unlike predecessors did not keep fingers crossed. Various unsuccessful and few partially effective action programs were initiated. But the best efforts of the government failed to bring visible tangible benefit mostly for lack of professional project selection and poor implementation management.
Government has so far failed miserably in securing energy efficiency and conservation. Theft and pilferage of power and energy in the name of system loss continues unabated .Consequently demand outstrips generation and supply of power and production and supply of gas. So even after significant increase of power generation and gas production crisis continues. Genuine consumers suffer but evil syndicates make merry.
Power System Master Plan and Mega Plan of Grand Alliance Government could achieve greater success if required finance and sustainable fuel supply at affordable price could be ensured. Policy makers and planners have failed in both. One must conclude that plan was not backed by logic and implementable action plans.
Government added 3300 MW new power in four years increasing the effective generation capacity to 6800MW from 3500MW. This increase definitely arrested major disaster to operation of industries and kept economy going. But 1800 MW of new power from imported liquid fuel based rental plants caused bleeding on national economy. These contingency plants were mostly contracted to party favored novice first timers with a plan to replace these in three years with gas and coal based base load power plants. But unfortunately due to prolonged tendering process and abysmal project management most of the major power plant projects are running at least two –three years behind schedule. Few major projects are in serious uncertainty and ultimately not be implemented .Government could not carry out BMR of ageing plants or replace them with fuel efficient new plants. These consume fuel at much higher than economic rate. Most of these have become a liability both in terms of smooth operation and economy. If old plants could be retired and replaced in a planned manner using same amount of gas at least 5000 ME power could be generated by now.
The gas supply shortage forces about 500 MW gas based power generation capacity remain idle. Government plan of importing 500 MMCFD equivalent LNG for Chittagong was always considered unrealistic over in immediate future. It is now evident that government did not have required homework on feasibility of LNG import. Considering the size of investment, technical and financial constraints LNG import in near future in Bangladesh should better be forgotten. The fast track gas production augmentation also failed to deliver. Only major increase of gas production came from Chevron operated Bibiyana and Jalalabad Gas Fields. But experts observe, operating these fields at high flow rate rates may cause rapid depletion soon.
Petrobangla / BAPEX created major hypes after every interpretation of each 3D seismic survey announcing of major additional gas discovery at Rashidpoor, Koillashtilla [Gas and Oil], Titas and new discovery at Sunetra. There is no such technology which can so accurately estimate gas reserve without drilling and testing wells testing. Now one after another bad news keeps coming. Sunetra is dry and some tiny structures were found in Sundalpoor and Sreekail. The small gas pockets are not considered commercial discovery in reservoir engineering. Reservoir Engineers and Petroleum Engineers will tell you any ultimate recoverable reserve less than 500BCF is not considered a commercial discovery .Among ongoing gas production expansion works only new wells at prolific Titas Gas Field may yield some benefits over near terms.
Petrobangla/GTCL also made inordinate delays in implementing several gas infrastructures for evacuating stranded gas from source to demand center. GTCL also failed to operate it system professionally .Even the transmission system cannot be operated at design capacity for accumulated condensates at the lowest points of grid. Without assessing the actual extent of required gas reserve and life of gas fields Petrobangla made GTCL invest fortune in ambitious gas transmission infrastructures like Jalalabad-Bibiyana –Dhanua pipeline. This pipeline will have a 700MMCFD design capacity without compression. Bibiyana now produces about 850MMCFD. By 2015 about 250 MMCFD gas will be required for all Bibiyana Gas field adjacent power plants. After commissioning of Ashuganj Compressor station North –South Pipeline segment of Gas Grid may transport 1800MMCFd gas where Bibiyana may require contributing about 1000MMCFD. How long Bibiyana will sustain a high flow rate of 1800 -2000 MMCFD? Not questiong how and when this pipeline will be built in a very aggressive ROW and what will be the quality of Construction? Eventually Only the Indian Pipe Supplier and its beneficiaries can benefit from 36 “OD unnecessary pipeline. Petrobangla /GTCL ignored experts’ advice for constructing the most essential Bakhrabad-Chittagong Gas Transmission loop line. Failure of LNG import and absence of required Gas transmission infrastructure to transport additional gas from national grid will prolong gas draught in Chittagong. Ashuganj Gas Compressor and Ashuganj- Bakhrabad Loop line may create situation of additional gas availability for downstream transmission at Bakhrabad Gas Field hub but ANSI# 400 Bakhrabad –Chittagong Pipeline in its present condition may not transport much additional gas to meet about 150-200 MMCFD deficit in Chittagong .
Another major failure of the government is in exploring and exploiting own coal for silly excuse of not adopting coal policy. It was and it is very much possible to professionally regulate and control coal mining in Bangladesh under Mines and Minerals acts. Still government under evil influence of coal mafia syndicate remained indecisive and hesitant for mining own coal. Rather it pursued without success imported coal based power generation. If mining by the most appropriate method could be started in 2009 at ready for mining Phulbari by this time both mining and at least 1000 MW coal fired power generation could be at advanced stage. Wonder who will account for this to present and future generation.
Many have reservations about success of imported coal based power generation in Bangladesh over near term especially at Rampal, Bagerhat for massive works on port channels, economic viability of the imported coal based power generation, possible adverse impacts on world heritage Sundarban Mangrove forest. Many asked legitimate questions why India did not set up such plants inside India. Which party drove whom into such nonviable adventure?
We wonder why India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan did not take up viable initiatives for Hydropower generation jointly and share? Why more interactive co-operation could not proceed about other green energy exploitation?
The power import initiatives from India also ran into uncertainties. We understand that the gird connectivity may complete by July 2013. India itself has severe power shortage. Thought talks are around about 200 MW power export after July 2013 we will be really interested to see whether it happens. Chief Minister Tripura promised to export 100 MW power export from Paltana Gas fired power plant. Bangladesh allowed transit corridor for transportation of heavy equipment through Ashuganj- Akhaura axis. But it now appears that despite of understandable sincerity of Tripura CM the power export may not happen.
Bangladesh Government signed many medium to large Gas and Coal based power generation projects without assessing and establishing the long term fuel supply guaranty and assessing the capability of Enterpreauner for financial closures. Some initiatives have already fall flat and more may have same fate soon.
We hope with less than a year now in office Government will conduct an honest soul searching why its sincerest efforts to achieve its pledges and promises in power and energy sector could not bring visible improvement? Uncertain power and energy scenario may be a pain in the neck for the Grand Alliance in the next election. Many of its milestone achievements elsewhere may be overshadowed.