Is LNG to the rescue from gas crisis?  

Published: August 17, 2018 22:12:28 | Updated: August 19, 2018 22:19:46

The miseries caused by the ongoing gas crisis in Dhaka city have reached an intolerable level. The prolonged supply disruptions hitting vast areas of the capital have upset domestic kitchen routine. With cooking schedules in total disarray, people's woes continue to mount with every passing day. There is an assurance from the gas distribution authorities on easing off the situation soon. A lot of people have been waiting eagerly for the commencement of the supply of liquefied natural gas (LNG) --- which is set to add to the supply of the locally extracted natural gas. But inordinate delays in fixing pipeline glitches at the floating Maheshkhali LNG regasification terminal haunt the start of full supply of the gas imported from Qatar.

The natural gas sector has lately been bogged down in a plethora of problems. It's veritably limping. Against the backdrop of the fast depleting gas stock in the existing reserves, rising demand for the fuel and the declining supply continue to aggravate the situation. With scores of gas-dependent industries, especially power plants, in place, commercial demand for natural gas is quite high. The Titas Gas Company is said to have expressed its incapacity to cope with the crisis in gas supply in the domestic sector. At present the demand for gas in Dhaka stands at around 2,200 mmcfd (million cubic feet per day). Titas can supply 1,550 mmcfd of gas, the deficit coming to 650 mmcfd. As more gas-based industries are in the pipeline, with prospects for new gas sources, both on-shore and offshore, dimming, resorting to LNG emerges as the only way out. Titas admits the fact that addition of LNG to the existing supplies will improve the gas situation.

According to people close to the country's natural gas sector, the share of domestic gas consumption is small compared to the fuel's use in industries --- the power generation and fertiliser production sectors being two prominent areas. That its domestic users comprise a relatively negligible segment of the total consumers can in no way justify the widespread misuse of the national resource. This is what has been seen at consumers' level in the last few decades. The sprouting of industries and the concomitant rise in gas supplies also merit an overview. Gas import only obliquely refers to some extent of injudiciousness at national level in dealing the vital gas sector. The general consumers' irresponsible conduct in gas use cannot be glossed over.

Higher cost of imported LNG is set to cause hardship to the Dhaka-dwellers, especially the middle and lower-middle class consumers. Despite the hikes in gas price, the Titas-supplied fuel still remained within affordable limits of the fixed-income people. With this highly essential urban utility suddenly becoming elusive, lots of people in Dhaka are set to find themselves in difficult times. Petrobangla hopes to add 100 mmcfd of LNG to the supply line, targeting Dhaka before Eid-ul-Azha. The LNG supply has already set in motion a major rise in gas prices. Few can ensure that there will not be further hikes in the near future. This fear ought to be allayed.

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