The port city is in the grip of an acute gas crisis with the authorities being forced to temporarily suspend supply to one of its largest consumers — Karnaphuli Fertiliser Company Ltd — since Friday.
Karnaphuli Fertiliser has already halted production. Earlier, at the beginning of the year, Chittagong Urea Fertiliser Ltd met the same fate and is not expected to reopen before September.
The authorities said, such a decision was taken to keep the Thermal Power Plant in Raozan open to minimise the power crisis.
Officials said the demand for gas in Chittagong is around 400 million cubic feet (cft) per day, while the available supply is around 200 million cft.
The two biggest consumers — Karnaphuli Fertiliser and Chittagong Urea — together used around 87 million cft a day.
As a result, Karnaphuli Gas Distribution Company Ltd was finding it extremely difficult to supply and distribute the balance of just over 100 million cft through rationing.
The stock at the main supply field, Sangu, is fast depleting and might be exhausted soon. On the other hand, the production at Khagrachari’s Semutang gas field has gone down considerably. As a result, it is feared that the crisis in Chittagong cannot be overcome soon.
Chairman of Petrobangla (Bangladesh Mineral Oil & Gas Corporation) Prof Hussain Monsur admitted that the gas crisis in Chittagong has become ‘grave’ and he does not see a solution in sight.
Only if Bakhrabad 9, Srikail 2 and Srikail 3 gas fields go into full production and the output is distributed to Chittagong, the crisis would ease a bit.
Monsur said the Sangu gas field would cease production in a few months; the production here is coming down to 5 percent to 6 percent of its peak production amount of 180 million-200 million cft.
Meanwhile, because of a shortage of supply, the gas-powered electricity plants in Chittagong have been idle for months adding to the woes of the city dwellers.
And the authorities are struggling in their balancing act of maintaining a ‘tolerable level’ of gas and electricity supply.
Karnaphuli Gas Distribution Company has also been having a tough time in supplying gas to both its residential and industrial customers.
Jameel A Aleem, managing director of Karnaphuli Gas, said the crisis has now become serious and they are using the ‘staggering method’ to supply to the industries which have captive power plants and to steel re-rolling mills to meet their demands first.
“After that, we try to serve our commercial, CNG and residential customers,” Aleem added.
No new connections are being given, be it industrial or residential. There are more than 12,000 applications for residential connections.
The Petrobangla chairman said, “Where we cannot even supply gas to the existing customers, the question of looking into any applications for connection does not even arise.”
Aleem of Karnaphuli Gas said all new connections have been stopped since the middle of July 2010.
Petrobangla chairman said, once a compressor is installed at Ashuganj, the gas crisis in Chittagong would ease to some extent, but this work would not be completed before September/October this year.
Monsur said liquefied natural gas (LNG) is the right solution.
Source: The Daily Star