Decision on gas price hike proposals after detailed analysis: BERC chairman

Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) chairman Abdul Jalil has said that the watchdog body will make a detailed analysis before taking any decision on the proposals submitted by different gas distribution companies to raise the gas tariff.

He made the remarks while taking part in a virtual dialogue on “Gas-LNG Debate in Energy Supply: Costs and Consequences of LNG Import for the Power Sector”, organised by the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) on Sunday.

The energy regulating body chief’s remarks came against the backdrop of the state-owned gas distributors’ proposals submitted to the BERC on January 25 to make a 117 per cent hike in gas price at retail level.

If the BERC accepts the 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.

The function, chaired by CPD Executive Director Dr Fahmida Khatun, was also addressed by eminent energy expert Dr M Tamim, Power Cell director general Mohammad Hossain, and Bangladesh Independent Power Producers Association president Imran Karim while Dr Khondaker Golam Moazzem, Research Director and Abdullah Fahad, Senior Research Associate of the CPD made a keynote presentation at the dialogue.

Abdul Jalil urged the government to increase subsidy and reduce the tax on LNG import so that gas prices could be kept lower.

He recommended increasing the onshore and offshore gas exploration as a long term solution to the current gas crisis.

The other speakers said that the ongoing gas crisis needs to be addressed through short, medium and long term measures.

Impact of liquefied natural gas (LNG) should not be the only measure, rather enhancing efficiency in gas use in power plants, reducing captive power generation, and promoting clean-energy based power generation are important to address the crisis, they observed.

They said that household consumers, industry, transport and power sectors have been facing challenges due to shortage of gas supply.

The speakers said the government should put emphasis on clean energy based power generation, gradually increase the share of renewable energy in the fuel-mix, and improve energy efficiency.

Dr M Tamim, Former Special Assistant to the Chief Advisor and Professor, Department of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Engineering at the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), put emphasis on exploration of gas.

He said the state-owned exploration company Bapex or foreign companies should be appointed for gas exploration on a competitive basis, “he added.

Dr Badrul Imam, Honorary Professor, Department of Geology, University of Dhaka, said the current gas price crisis is a result of the negligence towards the exploration of our own gas sources.

He recommended increasing the exploration pace both in onshore and offshore gas fields.

Razeeb Haider, Managing Director, Outpace Spinning Mills and Director, Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA) said that increase in the price of gas along with cost of production will be a major constraint for the textile sector to turn around from the pandemic situation.

Mr Mohammad Hossain, Director General of Power Cell, emphasised on the need for both gas and LNG to provide electricity.

Nuclear energy is an option as a cheaper means of electricity production, he suggested.

Source: United News of Bangladesh