Each of the five inoperative gas wells drilled by Russian oil corporation Gazprom needs fresh investment of up to Tk 52 crore for workover to resume gas production from the wells.
State-run Bangladesh Gas Fields Company Limited already spent Tk 52 crore for workover (gas well intervention) to resume gas production from a well at Titas gas field which became inoperative in April 2014 after Gazprom completed the drilling on October 31, 2013 at a cost of Tk 154 crore, said Bapex officials.
State-run Bangladesh Petroleum Exploration and Production Company, Bapex, did the workover at Titas gas field.
With the workover, each of the five wells would cost Tk 206 crore while one such well might have been drilled at a cost of less than Tk 70 crore by Bapex and about Tk 100-110 crore by other foreign companies, according to a Bapex report prepared for its board meeting in August.
Now Bapex is also carrying out a similar workover at Shahbajpur gas field, expected to be completed in early October, the officials said.
All the expensive measures taken by the government ultimately burden people with gas price hike and overall inflation contributed by gas price hike, said Consumers Association of Bangladesh’s energy adviser M Shamsul Alam.
Between March 2013 and November 2014, Gazprom drilled 10 wells at different gas fields of the gas fields company, Sylhet Gas Fields Limited and Bapex under the Speedy Supply of Power and Energy (Special Provisions) Act 2010 that indemnified officials concerned against prosecution for making decisions.
Gazprom charged more than Tk 154 crore for drilling each of the 10 wells, five of which stopped gas production at Titas, Shahbajpur, Semutang, Begumganj and Srikail gas fields, according to the Bapex report.
In 2012, the government engaged Gazprom instead of Bapex, citing the grounds that the Russian corporation would enable state-run Petrobangla to raise gas supplies by at least 225 million cubic feet per day from the 10 wells in a short span of time.
Five Gazprom-drilled wells in operation are giving only 87 mmcfd gas, said the officials.
Bapex officials blamed Gazprom’s inefficiency for the poor outcome of the expensive venture.
Gazprom officials, however, blamed faulty location and design for drilling the wells provided by Bapex for the sharp fall of gas production from the five wells.
Energy expert M Tamim, also petroleum engineering professor at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, said that it was wastage of public money and the government should launch investigation into why the wells stopped producing gas a few months after the drilling.
He also said that huge corruption might have been committed in engaging Gazprom without bidding at a so high price as the level of output could be much higher at a half of the cost if competitive bidding process was followed.
Energy expert Badrul Imam, also Dhaka University geology professor, said that the government was destroying Bapex through reducing its scope of work.
State minister for power, energy and mineral resources Nasrul Hamid declined to comment.
In 2015, Gazprom was again assigned to drill five more wells at Srikail, Bakhrabad and Rashidpur gas fields at the same cost without any bidding.
Now Gazprom is pursuing the government to award it two more drilling jobs at Shahbajpur gas field without any bidding, the officials said.