BERC to hold public hearing on March 21-24 over gas tariff hike

Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) will hold public hearing on the proposed gas tariff hike on March 21-24.

The commission has taken the decision to hold the public hearing if everything remains as usual, said Md Abdul Jalil, chairman of the BERC on Monday.

“We’ve already sent the notice in this regard to the newspapers to publish it as advertisement,” he told UNB.

State-owned 6 gas distribution companies and one transmission company submitted their final proposals to the energy regulator on January 25 seeking a 117 percent hike in gas price at retail level.

Besides, their principal gas supplier Petrobangla also placed its proposal to raise the price of the natural gas at bulk level.

As per the gas distributors’ proposals, the monthly gas price for a double burner will increase to Tk 2100 from existing Tk 975, while price for single burner will rise to Tk 2000 from current Tk 925.

Petrobangla is the bulk supplier to the six downstream distribution companies. They are Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company Ltd (Titas Gas), Bakhrabad Gas Distribution Company Limited (BGDCL), Jalalabad Gas Transmission and Distribution System Ltd (JGTDSL), Paschimanchal Gas company Limited(PGCL), Karnaphuli Gas Distribution Company Limited (KGDCL) and Sundarban Gas Company Limited (SGCL) while the only transmission company is Gas Transmission Company Limited (GTCL).

Following the submission of the proposals by the companies, a 5-member watchdog body scrutinized and set the schedule for the public hearing.

As per the BERC Act, the commission will invite interested representatives from stakeholders in the gas sector to take part in the public hearing.

After the conclusion of the hearing, the watchdog body will announce its decision within 90 days.

Official sources said Petrobangla and its 7 subsidiary bodies submitted the proposals to raise gas price at the bulk and retail levels following the directive of the Energy and Mineral Resources Division of the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources.

For the last several months, the Energy Division has been under pressure from the Finance Ministry to collect more revenues by raising gas prices to offset subsidies in the energy sector.

A member of the BERC said Petrobangla currently imports only 5 per cent of its daily consumption from a highly volatile international spot market where it has to buy gas at higher price.

It imports its 20 per cent gas from two international companies under long-term contracts where price is static.

“If the local production is raised by 5 per cent, then the country will not need to import the 5 per cent gas from volatile markets at a higher price and finally it would not have to raise the gas price at retail level,” he added.

Normally, the Petrobangla supplies 2,700-3,000, million cubic feet (mmcfd) gas per day of which 2,300 mmcfd is produced locally while 600 mmcfd is imported as liquefied natural gas LNG.

Of this imported 600 mmcfd, 150 mmcfd is imported from spot market at a variable price between $10 and $30 per unit.

Meanwhile, side by side the state-owned power distribution companies also submitted proposals to the BERC to raise the power tariff as well.

About the proposals, the BERC chairman informed that the commission has received proposals from state-owned Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) and other power distribution companies to raise power tariff as well.

“But we’re yet to complete the scrutinizing job on the proposals”, he said. So, no decision has been made as yet on holding of any public hearing on power tariff hike proposals, he said.

Source: United News of Bangladesh