Beginning of gas supply from imported liquefied natural gas has been delayed further as the US operator, Excelerate Energy, of the LNG re-gasification vessel anchored near Moheshkhali Island in Cox’s Bazar is yet to fix a connection of a subsea pipeline properly to the main pipeline.
The government is now expecting to begin gas supplies from June 5 as Excelerate has assured of fixing the problem by then, an Energy Division official told New Age on Wednesday on anonymity.
Officials of Petrobangla refused to comment on the matter.
It requires a seven-kilometre long with 24-inch diameter pipeline connected properly to the 91-km pipeline before beginning of gas supplies from the re-gasification vessel, the Energy Division official said.
Government-favoured Excelerate has so far rescheduled commissioning of its floating storage and re-gasification unit, which is actually a vessel, from February to April, then to May and now to June this year, said officials concerned.
On April 24, the Excelerate’s vessel anchored near the Moheshkhali Island.
The delay puts the government in trouble in managing 105 million cubic metres of daily demand for gas with indigenous supplies with hardly 76 million cubic metres per day, they said.
The government was desperate to increase the gas supplies from imported expensive LNG before the month of Ramadan began to increase power generation and to help households to have better gas supplies, the officials said.
Recently, Excelerate found PLEM (pipeline end manifold) was not connected properly with the main pipeline that has been laid to transmit the imported gas to Anwara to feed gas transmission and distribution system of Chittagong, they said.
Any fault or error in connecting PLEM to the main pipeline may cause serious accidents leading to a long-term suspension of gas supplies from imported LNG, the officials said.
The work has been hindered as the experts have to work at the depth of 30 metres of the Bay of Bengal where water current is very high and water is hazy with excessive presence of silts, the Energy Division official claimed.
It is very difficult to work more than four hours a day there, leading the delay, he added.
In the wake of severe shortage of gas supplies and little progress in oil and gas exploration in the country’s territory, the government in 2010 decided to import LNG and floated international tenders to set up re-gasification vessel at Moheshkhali to facilitate gas supplies at a rate of 14.16 million cubic metres per day from imported LNG from 2012.
After a series of revision of Excelerate’s proposal, Petrobagla, the state-run Oil, Gas and Mineral Resources Corporation, signed a 15-year contract for re-gasification service under the Speedy Supply of Power and Energy (Special Provisions) Act 2010 that indemnifies officials concerned against prosecution for awarding contracts without tender.
As per the build-own-and-operate contract, Excelerate will transfer its vessel, which is now 13 years old, to Petrobangla although the vessel would have hardly any asset value, which would ultimately become a burden of the government to decommission the vessel.
The government drew severe criticism for its decision to award the contract at a very high rate, 49 US cents for re-gasification of 28.32 cubic metres of gas, bypassing competitive bidding process.
Excelerate would realise approximately $1,353 million in 15 years from the government for using its facilities for re-gasification of imported liquefied natural gas against its initial investment of about $180 million.
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