The Financial Express

Deteriorating power situation 

| Updated: July 12, 2022 21:01:37

File photo used for representational image File photo used for representational image

Load shedding is back in an intense form after many years. The residents of Dhaka city are a bit lucky as the power outage is not excruciatingly severe until now. But millions living in other cities, towns and villages are having a tough time as far as the power supply is concerned. They, reportedly, are living without power for hours together every day. Why has all of a sudden the power supply situation deteriorated when power sector people have been telling success stories about power generation? The question that the victims of power outages are now asking is much logical. The government has already explained the principal reason--- gas shortage--- for the ongoing power problem. 

That there is a mismatch between demand for, and supply, of natural gas, is known to all. The deficit has been on the rise due to the depletion of gas deposits in the existing fields and the failure to find new reserves in both onshore and offshore areas. To narrow the deficit the government started importing LNG (liquefied natural gas) in September 2018. In recent months, there was an abnormal rise in the prices of LNG---international price of LNG is 24 times higher than locally produced gas because of increasing demand during the post-Covid economic recovery drive. The Russia-Ukraine war has further made the situation difficult for the government. The country's depleting forex reserve due to higher import costs has made the policymakers extra cautious. 

When a crisis comes, different people ask different questions. One particular question has got currency is: why has the government overlooked the need for ensuring the availability of primary fuels for power plants when it has created excess generation capacity in the power sector? Some experts are accusing the power sector honchos of their failure to develop or work out several existing gas fields and extract some additional gas that could partially meet the deficit. The use of substantial domestic coal reserves for power generation is also an issue that deserves proper evaluation. The production of power with gas found in two gas fields in Bhola and connecting the same with the national power grid should have also received priority consideration. 

There is no denying that the current situation is an unforeseen one. Bangladesh is not alone to face the problem concerning the supply and prices of fuel oils and gas. 

Countries, both developing and developed, are now experiencing the bitter outcome of the war. None knows for sure how long this situation will continue. It could even turn worse with fuel oil and gas prices going further up. That would leave a debilitating effect on the economy. The energy minister has been apologetic for the power supply disruption and the Prime Minister has requested the people to bear with the current difficult situation and be rational in the use of electricity. Load management is a tool used universally during power supply shortages. Power outages have a serious impact on the economy. So, the people in load-management operations need to ensure that the means of production are least affected. Besides, residents of a particular area must be informed of the load-shedding period beforehand. Load- management should not be enforced randomly. 

Then the power distribution companies must not have the luxury of turning a blind eye to power pilferage, a demand they have been ignoring for many years. 

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