The government will start giving new gas connections to industries from next month, although production has increased very little since the government stopped providing fresh connections two years ago.
The energy ministry is working to this end in line with the prime minister’s instructions, Energy Adviser Tawfiq-e-Elahi said at a programme at the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry in the capital yesterday.
“We shall start giving new gas connections to industries or increase the load in phases from next month, after assessing the impact on total gas supply,” he told The Daily Star.
The adviser added that gas supply had already resumed in all fertiliser plants, some of which had to suspend production due to gas shortage.
His comments came after FBCCI President AK Azad told the programme that there would be no new industries in the country if the government failed to offer adequate gas and electricity.
At present, the country’s daily gas production hovers around 2,200 mmcf against the existing users’ demand for over 2,500 mmcf. Production rose by about 300 mmcf over the last three years.
The government stopped giving new gas connections both for domestic and industrial purposes in June 2010. Since then, however, 50 industrial connections have been given under special arrangements considering export growth and job creation.
Petrobangla sources say during the period nearly 200 industry owners applied for gas connections and some 250 existing industries sought to increase their demand load. Some of these applications go back two years.
“These pending applications demand a supply of 100 mmcf,” said a top Petrobangla official. “So we are not giving out these connections at one go. We are also expecting an increase of supply by 130 mmcf by December, which will ease the present crisis.”
Right now there is a daily shortfall of 300 mmcf. And if the government lifts the restriction, demand will soar significantly, he added.
“The government has decided to ease the restriction to make voters happy,” he noted, requesting not to be named.
But for the voters there seems to be bad news too.
The energy adviser hinted at another hike in power tariff.
The Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) is working to announce the next hike, Tawfiq said, adding people would have to be ready to pay a higher tariff for electricity, as production cost had been rising.
Otherwise it would not be possible to provide electricity, he said.
Power distributing companies have proposed that BERC increase retail power tariff by at least 50 percent.
Over the last three and a half years, the government has increased power prices five times — three times in the last six months alone — to cut subsidy in the sector.