Early response to worsening gas crisis needed

Published: 00:00, Nov 09,2018 | Updated: 01:22, Nov 09,2018

 
 

ACUTE nationwide gas supply crisis since Saturday has affected families and businesses in Dhaka and Chattogram. This crisis has made it difficult for families to cook food for school and office goers. The Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company Limited says that the crisis surfaced after supply to the pipeline from the Floating Storage Regasification Unit at Maheskhali suddenly stopped because of technical glitches. Titas said that moves were under way to suspend natural gas supply to less important fertiliser factories and for power plants to increase cooking gas supply and that domestic natural gas production was static but the crisis arose after no gas had been fed to the gas supply system since Saturday. Many families have been compelled to spend about Tk 10,000 on buying induction cookers, ovens and electric kettles besides fetching foods from restaurants.
A 2015 Petrobangla study shows that the gas supply shortage would increase to 969mmcfd by the end of 2019 from 555mmcfd which does not augur well for the economy. The study was based on the existing resources that include 25 discovered onshore and one offshore gas fields with a prospect of 14.5 trillion cubic feet of gas reserve. Hundreds of industrial units across the country, especially in Chattogram, are reported to have sat idle just because of inadequate or lack of gas supply. The factors that still hold back fresh investment, even in areas surrounding the capital where gas supply was more than sufficient, include gas crisis. The problem has reasons to send shivers down the spine of people who solely depend on gas for household purposes. All this takes place at a time when the country has a huge potential of getting investment, local and foreign, something crucial for making its dream of high economic growth and meeting challenges a reality. After assuming office in 2009, the Awami League-led government expressed high hopes that the gas crisis inherited from its predecessors, which then severely haunted the nation, would be soon resolved. The energy ministry and Petrobangla spoke in public on more than one occasions of a road map that included discovering new offshore and onshore fields and increasing gas production in the existing fields to end the problem. It is now clear that either the road map was full of rhetoric or the government functionaries responsible for the task were busy otherwise.
The nation can hardly afford a further gas supply crisis. The government must redouble its efforts to address the issue. It needs to redesign its plan on mitigating the gas deficit, which must be complemented by the implementation of the plan to the letter and in spirit.

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