The cabinet on Monday was informed of the discovery of a gas field with 600 billion cubic feet reserve in Bhola, said cabinet secretary Mohammad Shafiul Alam.
State-run Bangladesh Petroleum Exploration and Production Company, Bapex, discovered the gas field at Bheduria in Bhola, he told a news briefing at the secretariat on the weekly cabinet meeting.
Prime minister Sheikh Hasina chaired the meeting at her Tejgaon office.
It was the 27th gas field in the country and the second in Bhola, Shafiul said, adding that now Bhola had a total of 1.5 trillion cubic feet of gas reserve.
Shafiul said that the announcement came after conducting necessary tests.
Bapex officials, however, on anonymity said that an essential test named Drill Stem Test was yet to be done and such an announcement was premature.
It was too early to make such an announcement as Bapex only found indication of gas presence in the ‘Wire Line Log’ report at five to six sand layers between 3,300 metres and 3,350 metres depths during drilling of an exploration well at Bhola North structure, said a Bapex official.
Some officials in Bapex and energy division were giving such information to the policymakers at a premature stage to take credit which might be a cause of embarrassment for the government, the officials alleged.
On October 23, 2017, the cabinet secretary had also announced the discovery of a gas field within the area of Shahbazpur gas field in Bhola.
A week later, Bapex confirmed that it was an extension of Shahbazpur gas field.
Bapex managing director Nowshad Islam declined commenting on the matter.
Energy expert Badrul Imam, also professor of geology department at Dhaka University, told New Age that it was good news as the drilling of the well so far showed signs of gas presence at Bhola North structure.
He, however, said that the announcement of the discovery was completely a non-professional act as the Drill Stem Test was yet to be done.
Bapex former managing director Mortuza Ahmad Faruque said that any discovery of gas reserve was good news for the nation although it would take some more time for confirmation.
He said that identifying the extension of Shahbazpur gas field with increased reserve and the potential discovery of Bhola North gas field would help industrialisation and low-cost power generation in Bhola.
He, however, said that it would not be wise to transmit the gas to the national grid even if gas was found there.
Instead, he suggested building power plants and industrial units in Bhola for optimum use of the natural resource.
Bapex provided the location of the well while Russian Gazprom through its partner Ariel Corporation drilled the well at Bhola North, some 20 km from the Shahbazpur gas field.
On December 9, Ariel started drilling the exploration well after completion of drilling an appraisal and development well at the Shahbazpur gas field.
Under alleged influence of a vested quarter in the government, Gazprom was given the contract of drilling of the two wells bypassing tenders at $33.2 million which Bapex could do at 66 per cent of the cost, the officials said.
Both Badrul and Faruque were critical of engaging Gazprom for drilling two wells at high price depriving Bapex.
Until now, Bangladesh has a total reserve of 12 tcf and the supply from the reserve has already started declining, from 2,750 million cubic feet per day to less than 2,700 mmcfd.