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Cutting Red Tape: Inquiry Process Acceleration Demanded!

Energy security is important in maintaining the country’s stable economy and growth continuity. Currently, ensuring energy security is the biggest challenge for the country’s economy. Although there are ways to face this challenge, the country’s energy sector and Petro-bangla have not followed that path.

Instead of emphasizing its own oil and gas exploration, the government has developed a dependence on energy imports. LNG import started in 2018. After that, imports were disrupted due to the dollar crisis.

An increase in the price of LNG also increases the cost of production. Lack of safe fuel creates a kind of instability in the country’s economy. Recently, the government has intensified local gas exploration. Petrobangla and the Energy Department have finalized the call for tenders for oil and gas exploration in the sea.

Through this, experts believe that there is an opportunity for foreign companies to re-engage in oil and gas exploration in the sea of ​​the country. They also suggested reducing bureaucratic red tape and complexity to implement the search program quickly.

The government has targeted increasing power generation capacity to 60,000 MW by 2041. 35% of this capacity is expected to come from imported gas and LNG-dependent power plants.

A large part of the electricity will come from import-dependent coal and fuel oil. Plans for power generation using renewable sources or domestic sources have not been given much emphasis.

According to the Merchant News report, there are a total of 26 deep-sea blocks in the Bay of Bengal. Among them, there are 15 blocks in deep sea and 11 in shallow sea. Last December 2012, Petrobangla invited international tenders for exploration in the Bay of Bengal.

In that tender, foreign companies showed interest in working for nine blocks, but in the end, three blocks were leased by international oil companies. Among them, India’s state-owned oil and gas exploration company ONGC leased Blocks SS 4 and 9.

Australia-based oil and gas exploration company Santos leased Block 11. However, no positive results were obtained from that process.

Planning to rely on import-dependent fuels carries multiple risks. Energy markets fluctuate throughout the year due to various factors including international geopolitics, production and price manipulation. At times, prices rise to record highs.

As a result, it is difficult to maintain the continuity of development by making plans depending on the international energy market. Experts had warned of over-reliance on LNG while formulating the power sector master plan.

In this case, their suggestion was to adopt renewable energy-based power projects. It was said that the market of LNG, fuel oil etc. is unstable. Its price fluctuates rapidly.

If the price of LNG increases due to any reason, the cost of production from power generation to industrial production will increase. Entrepreneurs will lag in international competition.

Analyzing the development and industrialization of Bangladesh, it can be seen that behind it is the supply of affordable gas. It has been provided to industry and the power sector at a low cost as the gas supply is from local sources. It has produced products at low cost, which has played a positive role in meeting international competition and domestic demand.

Along with fuel oil, the price of LNG is also increasing. There is a risk of further increase in the future. This will disrupt the supply of gas to the industry as well as doubt about the scheduled commissioning of the power plant under construction.

International energy markets are always volatile. Hence it is necessary to keep this in mind while formulating any plan and avoid single fuel dependency. There is a possibility of getting more gas in water and land in Bangladesh. It should be used.

To ensure self-sufficiency in the field of energy, gas exploration and extraction work must be accelerated. The reality is that gas exploration in the country is not yet mature, rather it is in the initial stage. Much of the country’s territory remains unexplored; Exploration in vast ocean areas remains minimal.

In 2012, Myanmar settled its maritime boundary dispute with Bangladesh. The country started extracting gas from here in 2013. After that, the maritime boundary was settled with India in 2014.

Since the legal settlement of the waters, Myanmar and India have undertaken extensive exploration activities in the Bay of Bengal. They have also succeeded in this.

In the meantime, 10 years have passed since this settlement. Bangladesh has not seen any success in oil and gas extraction and exploration in the deep sea during this long period. The search operation should be started soon.

For this, both investment and national capacity should be increased. It is not right to rely entirely on energy imports from the idea that the country is running out of gas. Special priority should be given to the exploration and extraction of own natural resources including gas to reduce energy dependence.

Effective initiatives should also be taken to increase the production and use of renewable energy. Domestically sourced fuel is cost-effective.

Energy experts say that rising fuel prices affect everything. Individuals, households, businesses, and agriculture are all affected by fuel prices. Fuel prices have added to inflationary pressures. First, importing, then after coming here, the price is increasing step by step.

Initially exogenous, but with repeated increases at the domestic level, it added to inflationary pressures. Availability crisis has always been a problem, but now it has increased. It is a policy failure.

Various long and medium-term plans have been taken to ensure energy security. They have not been tested for proper functioning. Ambitious and unrealistic projections have been made at various times in the energy sector.

A large part of these projections and plans were dependent on imported fuels. A complete solution could not be reached on the issue of primary energy. But there is a solution.

However the solutions to the problems of the energy sector could not be implemented by giving priority to the interests of the groups, and the people have to pay the price.

Various developing countries including Vietnam, Cambodia, and Indonesia have paid more attention to providing energy from domestic sources. Vietnam currently produces 31 and 26% of its total electricity through the use of natural gas and coal, respectively.

Hydropower contributes 41% to the total electricity generation in the country. The remaining 2% imports very little fossil fuel for electricity generation. Now the country is more determined to produce and use renewable energy.

Similarly, Cambodia is meeting the energy needs of the industrial sector through the use of renewable energy sources such as solar power, wind power and hydropower in addition to traditional domestic energy sources.

The situation is similar in Indonesia. Although oil, natural gas and coal dominate the electricity generation in the country, the use of hydropower and geothermal is gradually increasing. In these cases, they are dependent on domestic sources. As a result, fuel costs are relatively low in those countries.

Following the experience of these countries, we also need to focus on renewable energy. There has been no study or research on the potential of renewable energy in the country. Increasing such research and investment is the need of the hour.

At the same time, it is necessary to revise the master plan of the power sector and make it dependent on domestic sources. In this case, adopting a sustainable development plan using renewable energy, natural gas, coal and other resources is the need of the hour.

It is necessary to focus on innovation and extraction from domestic sources to reduce the import dependence on energy.

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