First jet fuel plant goes into operation

Partex Petro Ltd, an oil refinery, has started production and marketing of aviation fuel, becoming the first company in Bangladesh to manufacture the finished product for the growing air transport market.

Partex Group has invested Tk 1,400 crore to set up the facility, which, at its peak, will produce 14,000 barrels of petrol, octane, and diesel per day, including 2,800 barrels of jet fuel.

“We are able to meet one-third of the demand for jet fuel in the country and save $300 million in foreign currencies,” said Rubel Aziz, managing director of Partex Group.

Bangladesh needs more than 9,000 barrels of jet fuel a day. According to Aziz, Partex Petro’s value addition is around $50 per barrel as it imports base oil.

“If the government imports finished oil, it has to spend $159 per barrel. We are helping the government mitigate the dollar crisis.”

Partex Petro, which started commercial production in May, delivered its first consignment of jet fuel of 10 lakh litres to Padma Oil on October 22.

Domestic and international airlines, which operate flights in Bangladesh, as well as private helicopter operators, Bangladesh Air Force, and Bangladesh Army use jet fuel.

Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) sold nearly 238,000 tonnes of jet fuel in the fiscal year of 2020-21, down from 345,000 tonnes a year earlier as the coronavirus pandemic hit hard the air travel industry, at home and abroad.

Partex Group has set up the country’s largest condensate refinery plant over 40 bighas of land on the bank of the Karnaphuli river in Anwara of Chattogram.

Of the Tk 1,400 crore investment, nine banks and non-banking financial institutions together provided Tk 980 crore under a syndicated loan arranged by Trust Bank Ltd. The rest Tk 420 crore came as equity.

According to Subir Kumar Ghose, chief executive officer of Partex Petro, the plant is able to cater to the country’s need for energy.

“Our refineries are strategically located in the south of Bangladesh, offering the benefits of low transportation costs for raw materials and proximity to high-growth markets,” he said.

“We realised that it is a potential project. The business will be viable, help the government raise revenue and contribute to the economy,” said Humaira Azam, managing director of Trust Bank.

Partex Petro recently started supplying aviation fuel to Padma Oil, said

Numan Ahmed Taffader, general manager for marketing of the state-owned petroleum distribution company and also the sole distributor of aviation fuel in the country.

Now all domestic and foreign airlines purchase jet fuel from Padma Oil, which has refuelling stations at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport of Dhaka, Shah Amanat International Airport in Chattogram, and the Osmani International Airport in Sylhet.

Partex Petro began producing aviation fuel at a time when airlines are increasing the number of flights to carry the growing number of travellers.

Twenty-nine foreign and three local carriers, including state-owned Biman Bangladesh Airlines, operate in Bangladesh and they transported half a million travellers in 2019 before the coronavirus pandemic hit the industry.

Air travel has rebounded this year and the number of passengers is expected to exceed the pre-pandemic levels.