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Russia's Gazprom getting five new wells for gas drilling

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Russian company Gazprom is all set to get fresh gas-drilling job in Bhola island as Bangladesh bids for augmenting local output of the natural gas to lessen costly LNG imports, sources say.

A deal might be inked soon with the Russian gas-and-oil-exploration firm as prime minister's office (PMO) gave the green signal for awarding the job to drill five new onshore gas wells, Petrobangla chairman Zanendra Nath Sarker told the FE Saturday.

Sources say the deal-making on gas drilling may be done under the Quick Enhancement of Electricity and Energy Supply (Special Provisions) Act, known as indemnity law in the fuel field, which bypasses usual tendering process.

The law has a provision of immunity to those involved with such a quick-fix solution to energy and power crises. The much-talked-about quick-rental power plants were hired under this law, with capacity-payment proviso.

Two each of these onshore gas wells are located in Shahbazpur and Bhola North gas fields and another is located in Shabajpur North East gas field, said the sources.

 

The onshore gas wells to be awarded to Gazprom are SBZ-5 and 7 in Shahbazpur gas field, Bhola North- 3 and 4 and Shahbazpur North East-1.

Gazprom is now learnt to be readying technical and financial proposal to submit to state-run Bangladesh Petroleum Exploration and Production Company Limited (BAPEX) for the contract.

"Price negotiations will take place after receiving technical and financial proposals from Gazprom," a senior BAPEX official said.

If awarded, the firm's responsibility under the contract will include construction of drilling pad, camp warehouse and site preparation, rig shifting and commissioning, procurement of drilling materials, engagement of third-party services, drilling, testing and commissioning, he said.

The contract will ensure insurance of contractor's equipment, blowout incident, third-party liability insurance and personnel insurance.

"Gazprom might have to pay 5.0 per cent of the total contracted costs as a performance guarantee," the official added.

All these wells are development wells, meaning these gas structures have got known gas reserves and with the drilling of Gazprom gas extraction from these wells will be assured.

The Russian company has already collected necessary information from BAPEX in its bid to initiate drilling, said sources.

Regarding Gazprom's involvement in Bangladesh's oil-and-gas sector, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said, "There are promising prospects for continued cooperation in the gas sector."

He made the remark during a press conference in Dhaka early this month, capping his stopover visit on way to the Delhi G20 summit.

"Gazprom International Limited has participated in drilling more than 20 wells and is prepared to continue this work," he said.

The Russian state firm has been working as a contractor company in Bangladesh for more than a decade since 2012.

Until 2023, Gazprom has completed drilling a total of 17 gas wells, mostly development wells, in different gas fields.

The Russian firm most recently completed drilling three gas wells-Tabgi-1, Bhola North-2 and Illisha-1 -- at a total cost of around US$59.38 million, said the BAPEX official.

Currently, Shahbazpur gas field, owned by BAPEX, produces around 63 million cubic feet of gas per daily (mmcfd) from four producing gas wells against the total production capacity of around 50 mmcfd, according to official data of Petrobangla.

Shahbazpur gas field has a gas reserve of around 1.3 trillion cubic feet (Tcf), said sources.

Bhola North and Shahbazpur North East gas fields have also gas reserves of over 1.5 Tcf, they added.

Bangladesh's overall natural gas demand is currently around 4,000mmcfd, according to Petrobangla statistics. Overall production is hovering around 2,819mmcfd, including around 719 mmcfd of re-gasified liquefied natural gas (LNG), as on September 22.

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