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Essay On Power Crisis In Bangladesh

Energy Crisis of Bangladesh–Issues & options

July 13, 2008 at 9:32 am

Saleque Sufi

Bangladesh is passing through a very critical juncture of its history. A nation of about 150 million living in a country of 58,000 square kilometers is struggling against all possible odds that a nation has to encounter for survival. Very difficult global situation of worsening food security and very tight energy security has made its struggle all the more difficult. Bangladesh won independence in 1971 after 9 months of blood birth. The occupation Pakistan army ravaged its economy, sucked its resources and killed its intelligentsia. Unfortunately, democracy did not survive for more than four and half years after independence. While the country was in relentless struggle to set its roots firmly in the ruins the conspirators with the assistance of their plant agents killed the father of the nation and front line leaders of liberation war in 1975.

From 1975 till 1990 brute military in the cover of regulated democracy ruined all the democratic institutions, made corruption, nepotism and anarchy our household affairs. Only money and muscles dominated over plain thinking and honest living. A complete generation of fair and honest thinking Bangladeshis either migrated to foreign countries of became silent majority in Bangladesh. All the values of liberation war and spirits were tarnished. Anti-liberation forces and their agents established themselves very alarmingly. Terrorism set its roots in.

Fortunately dedicated political forces struggled to restore democracy and by early 1990s democracy was restored. Two ordinary housewives, widow of slain President Ziaur Rahman and daughter of martyred Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman led the struggle for democracy. These two ladies in three terms of 5 years each led there democratic government. They try to lead the country at their level best within their serious limitations. But their success was mostly overshadowed by the organized internecine and self-destructive activities of ill motivated civil and military bureaucracy. Consequently, the basic fabric of democracy got infected. The country became a happy hunting ground for corrupt syndicates and terrorists. The country earned the evil reputation of the most corrupt country for several years in succession. This happened despite the fact that our very innovative framers created wonder in agriculture front.

Bumper crops kept the nation of 150 millions alive. Our poor garments girls’ helped earn huge foreign exchange, our hardworking labor force from abroad spiraled our remittance. The majority hard working poor Bangladeshis despite of their honest and sincere nation building efforts were disgraced by atrocities and corruptions of few white colored bureaucrats, technocrats and misguided politicians. Unfortunately several unsocial elements under patronage major political parties sucked the blood of innocent people and earned bad names.

Specially during the tenure of the last BNP-led four-party alliance rule a group of Hawa Bhaban sponsored mafias made the country happy hunting ground for grabbing and looting. Energy sector became the easy prey. While the demand for energy increased geometrically the generation and production remained almost static. By the time the government completed its tenure the energy sector almost became non functional. The immediate past government set all the machineries to manipulate election to continue their evil nation destructing operation. Fortunately, people’s movement led by positively thinking political elements put a halt to the conspiracy of the evil groups. The Care Taker Government took over primarily to create enabling environment for free fair and credible election. But again the evil design of a certain group created impediments at every step. Government appeared to have been driven off track on many issues in some occasions. It faltered time and again, wasted time in unnecessary issues. Consequently it failed to address major issues like food security and energy security.

Repeated natural calamities, global recession, fuel and food crisis also did not help their cause. But the situation has come to a stage where immediate election and handing over or power to elected government has become the necessity of the hour. The energy situation has reached such a terrible stage that even the elected government will have to struggle a lot to bring things back on track over the next elected term.

Recently the author tried to link with friends and senior Bangladeshi expatriate energy professionals sharing their views about present, immediate and long-term energy options for Bangladesh. If all the matters of discussions are to feature in details it cannot be accommodated. However, in the briefest of form these are being addressed here.

Present Energy Scenario of Bangladesh

·Bangladesh ranks low in terms of both Per Capita Energy Consumption and Energy Intensity.

·About 32% have access to Power & about 10% have access to Natural Gas.

·The average daily power demand is 5000 MW and gas demand is about 1900 MMCF.

·The Effective Power Generation Capacity is 4000 MW and Actual Daily Gas Supply is 1750 MMCF.

·Transmission Capacities of Power and Gas as well as System loss is not taken into account here.

·The huge deficit of power and gas supply have created severe energy crisis.

·The country’s power generation is basically mono fuel based with about 90% produced from Natural Gas.

·Other options are lone Hydro Electric Plant at Kaptai, The Lone Coal Based plant at Barapukuria and several small furnace oil and Diesel Plants in the northern and Southern Region.

Effects of Uncertain Energy Scenario

·Gas Supply constraint has restricted power generation specifically in Chittagong region.

·Power Crisis has impeded industrial operation and almost halted further industrial growth. It tends to stall economy, trade and commerce.

·This may put already depleting forest resources under severe stress with consequent adverse environmental impacts.

·The country may drift into chaos and uncertainty, poverty and anarchy may trigger terrorism and instability.

·Anti Bangladesh elements may try to brand Bangladesh as a failed country.

·The opportunity lost may prove catastrophic and may entice yet more bright and dynamic professionals to migrate to foreign countries for better living.

·In this technology driven energy world the consequent brain drain may bring more disasters.

·The potential FDI in energy and downstream sectors may change direction to Vietnam, Cambodia and other destinations.

·Even Bangladeshi industrial entrepreneurs may lose incentives to invest.

·These will create major unemployment crisis and frustrations.

Reasons For crisis

·Bangladesh failed to set up a functional energy Authority of competent, honest, dynamic energy professionals due to inappropriate policy, lack of good governance, inappropriate human resource development policy.

·Bangladesh even could not organize effective reservoir management team to asses the exact extent of its reserve and resources and allowed unnecessary debates of theoreticians and thereby policy makers got confused and refrained from taking appropriate decisions at right time.

·Bangladesh could not develop any energy institution capable to undertake operations independently. Government interfered too much.

·Bangladesh failed to Develop Bapex as flagship national company in upstream exploration and development.

·Bangladesh failed to set up a competent unit to monitor and mange operation of IOCs and as such failed to get technology transfer or control costs of IOCs.

·Bangladesh could not adjust price of fuel in domestic market to international level. As such the high differential in purchase of gas from IOCs and selling in domestic market cause tremendous financial hardship for gas companies. Similarly PDB is in serious trouble with power from IPPs and BPC is almost on the verge of collapse for buying Petroleum at sky scraping price and selling at poor domestic price.

·Energy companies never allowed working with any freedom and autonomy. Government and Corporation officials dominate company boards. These make the company autonomy mockery.

·Bangladesh failed to effectively explore and exploit it sizeable gas and Coal resources to extract maximum national benefit.

·Vast portion of onshore and almost entire off shore area have not been surveyed even for hydrocarbons and minerals.

·In absence of drilling and depletion strategy Bangladesh destroyed potential Bakhrabad and Sangu gas structures and also allowed minor companies like Occidental and Niko to destroy our resources at Magurchhara and Tengratilla.

·Petrobangla, PDB and Energy Companies are dominated by unworthy politically blessed civil and Military Bureaucrats and wrong professionals.

·Very intelligent energy sector mafias misguided even the Care Taker Energy Management. In almost a year and a half CTG failed miserably to bring meaningful changes. Contingency Power Plants are wrong decision. In future another group of people will be brought to dock for wrong decisions. The approach for 450 MW major plants at Nabiganj (Beside Bibiyana) and Sirajganj were OK. But the tendering and evaluation process followed same fussy route to favor blessed ones. Wonder whether similar syndicate is involved in Deep water drilling also.

The present situation requires complete overhauling of energy sector organizations, management and other related matters. We mostly agreed on the following short, mid and long term options.

Actions Required

·Political Commitment and National Consensus to effectively encounter the Energy Challenges.

·Properly articulated National Energy Vision and defined Time bound mission to achieve the national vision.

·Energy issues along with Food, Education, Shelter, Medicare, and Security must be considered basic fundamental rights of the citizen and must be kept clean of politics.

·Very specific, focussed, comprehensive Energy Sector Master Plan in pursuance with Country’s Energy Policy must be adopted. This must include Power sector development plan, gas sector development plan, Coal sector development plan, Renewable research and development plan, nuclear options, Regional Energy Trading issues.

·Government must stay out of Energy business and restrict role to policy formulation.

·Strong Energy Regulatory Commission through transparent policy and strong auditing create level play ground for private and public energy companies to mange and operate all segments of energy value chain in [proper competitive commercial environment.

·Energy Pricing must be market oriented and Regulatory commission must set proper toll and tariff mechanism.

·LPG and Coal may be used for domestic and commercial sectors

·Construct Gas Transmission loop line from Bakhrabd Gas Field to Chittagong City Gate Station.

·Cairn must complete further exploration of Mognama and Hatiya and keep its contingent actions ready to link probable gas wells to Sangu offshore platform if gas is found.

·If possible scrap the deepwater drilling tender and go for fresh tender. Arrange proper road shows to attract oil majors to participate in the bidding. In the meantime we must endeavour to complete demarcation of maritime boundary and Exclusive Economic Zone.

·BAPEX must proceed with Exploration and Development of assigned blocks. Chevron, Cairn, Tullow and Total must carry out exploration in assigned blocks or relinquish.

·Bangladesh must reopen discussion with neighbours for a probable gas and power regional Grid.

·Commence coal exploration at Phulbari without delay in the most economic and technically appropriate manner. Start Coal based pant implementation. All shallow coal mines must be put under development soon with the aim to explore and exploit maximum resources maintaining required environmental and safety priorities. The affected people must be properly compensated and rehabilitated.

·Start works for at least 1000MW capacity Nuke plant adopting the safest and proven technology.

·Aggressively approach Solar, Wind and Bio fuel options. All the prospects of solar power, wind energy must be exploited. Bangladesh must seek help of Expatriate Bangladeshi Scientists and Professionals for Bio Fuels (Oil from Algae). Bangladesh must interact with Australian Government for Clean Coal Technology and South African Government for Liquid from Coal.

The caretaker government must also discuss energy sector management issues with political parties and professional group. If we fail to appropriately address the present very uncertain and very critical energy situation properly the national economy may suffer serious stagnant situation for a long time. This is not desirable for any peace loving self respecting person.

We must remember continued crisis in Energy sector w3ill cause disastrous situation in our agriculture, commercial and Industrial sectors. Economy will become stagnant and even non functional. It is for our national survival in a very difficult situation we must immediately agree on basic minimum issues in the shape of National Energy Agenda.

Source: http://www.ep-bd.com/

Date: 01 July 2008, Bangladesh

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Entry filed under: Uncategorized. Tags: Coal, Energy, phulbari news. power.

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