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Bangladesh to exhaust gas reserves?

June 25, 2013 at 12:28 PM   |   Comments

DHAKA, Bangladesh, June 25 (UPI) -- Bangladesh risks running out of existing recoverable gas reserves within the next decade if no new gas fields are discovered, experts warn.

"Bangladesh urgently requires the necessary exploration and drilling to increase overall natural gas output," local energy expert Nurul Islam told Platts Monday.

Data from state-owned Bangladesh Oil, Gas & Mineral Corp., known as Petrobangla, shows the country's natural gas output is about 2.28 billion cubic feet a day against a demand of 2.7- to 3 Bcf per day.

Amid annual estimated demand growth of 10 percent, the country's entire recoverable gas reserves of 16.36 trillion cubic feet are on course to dry up by 2022, Platts reported.

But if the natural gas consumption rate should exceed that 10 percent growth estimate, Bangladesh's reserves won't last more than a decade, a senior Petrobangla official said.

Of Bangladesh's 20 producing gas fields, 15 are state-owned and the remaining operated by international oil companies.

Chevron now contributes more than half of Bangladesh's total gas production.

An editorial in Dhaka's Financial Express earlier this month noted the country's policymakers and "so-called hydrocarbon experts" had portrayed a rosy picture that "Bangladesh was, as if, floating on gas."

Instead, the editorial stated, the current "availability of gas is far short of the domestic demand for it."

It said the scarcity of gas has created "multifarious" economic problems, with new industries not being able to start operation and existing ones operating at less than capacity.

In 2011, Petrobangla had forecast by this month it would be able to nearly double Bangladesh's gas supplies and by December 2015 gas supplies would be further boosted, to exceed the country's demand.

But Petrobangla last week revised downward the country's natural gas output projection.

Bangladesh's natural gas output increased only by 110 million cubic feet per day to 2.26 billion cubic feet per day until June 2013 from 2.15 Bcf per day in June 2012, Petrobangla data indicated.

"We could not increase natural gas supply from the state-owned gas fields in line with our initial target, resulting in less than expected natural gas output," a Petrobangla official said.

He cited setbacks, including Chevron's delay until 2014 of its plan to increase gas supplies from a previous target of 2013 and Russia's Gazprom not able to meet its December 2013 target to complete a 10-well drilling program, the Financial Express reports. The country's ambition to import liquified natural gas by December 2013 also has stalled because a bidder had not been selected to build a floating LNG terminal.

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