Isha khan’s Weblog

Energy Crisis of Bangladesh –Issues & options
July 9, 2008, 2:00 pm
Filed under: Bangladesh

Energy Crisis of Bangladesh –Issues & options

Bangladesh is passing through a very critical juncture of its
history. A nation of about 150 million living in a country of 58,000
square kilometers is struggling against all possible odds that a
nation has to encounter for survival. Very difficult global
situation of worsening food security and very tight energy security
has made its struggle all the more difficult. Bangladesh won
independence in 1971 after 9 months of blood birth. The occupation
Pakistan army ravaged its economy, sucked its resources and killed
its intelligentsia. Unfortunately, democracy did not survive for
more than four and half years after independence. While the country
was in relentless struggle to set its roots firmly in the ruins the
conspirators with the assistance of their plant agents killed the
father of the nation and front line leaders of liberation war in

From 1975 till 1990 brute military in the cover of regulated
democracy ruined all the democratic institutions, made corruption,
nepotism and anarchy our household affairs. Only money and muscles
dominated over plain thinking and honest living. A complete
generation of fair and honest thinking Bangladeshis either migrated
to foreign countries of became silent majority in Bangladesh. All
the values of liberation war and spirits were tarnished. Anti-
liberation forces and their agents established themselves very
alarmingly. Terrorism set its roots in.

Fortunately dedicated political forces struggled to restore
democracy and by early 1990s democracy was restored. Two ordinary
housewives, widow of slain President Ziaur Rahman and daughter of
martyred Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman led
the struggle for democracy. These two ladies in three terms of 5
years each led there democratic government. They try to lead the
country at their level best within their serious limitations. But
their success was mostly overshadowed by the organized internecine
and self-destructive activities of ill motivated civil and military
bureaucracy. Consequently, the basic fabric of democracy got
infected. The country became a happy hunting ground for corrupt
syndicates and terrorists. The country earned the evil reputation of
the most corrupt country for several years in succession. This
happened despite the fact that our very innovative framers created
wonder in agriculture front.

Bumper crops kept the nation of 150 millions alive. Our poor
garments girls’ helped earn huge foreign exchange, our hardworking
labor force from abroad spiraled our remittance. The majority hard
working poor Bangladeshis despite of their honest and sincere nation
building efforts were disgraced by atrocities and corruptions of few
white colored bureaucrats, technocrats and misguided politicians.
Unfortunately several unsocial elements under patronage major
political parties sucked the blood of innocent people and earned bad

Specially during the tenure of the last BNP-led four-party alliance
rule a group of Hawa Bhaban sponsored mafias made the country happy
hunting ground for grabbing and looting. Energy sector became the
easy prey. While the demand for energy increased geometrically the
generation and production remained almost static. By the time the
government completed its tenure the energy sector almost became non
functional. The immediate past government set all the machineries to
manipulate election to continue their evil nation destructing
operation. Fortunately, people’s movement led by positively thinking
political elements put a halt to the conspiracy of the evil groups.
The Care Taker Government took over primarily to create enabling
environment for free fair and credible election. But again the evil
design of a certain group created impediments at every step.
Government appeared to have been driven off track on many issues in
some occasions. It faltered time and again, wasted time in
unnecessary issues. Consequently it failed to address major issues
like food security and energy security.

Repeated natural calamities, global recession, fuel and food crisis
also did not help their cause. But the situation has come to a stage
where immediate election and handing over or power to elected
government has become the necessity of the hour. The energy
situation has reached such a terrible stage that even the elected
government will have to struggle a lot to bring things back on track
over the next elected term.

Recently the author tried to link with friends and senior
Bangladeshi expatriate energy professionals sharing their views
about present, immediate and long-term energy options for
Bangladesh. If all the matters of discussions are to feature in
details it cannot be accommodated. However, in the briefest of form
these are being addressed here.
Present Energy Scenario of Bangladesh

• Bangladesh ranks low in terms of both Per Capita Energy
Consumption and Energy Intensity.
• About 32% have access to Power & about 10% have access to Natural
• The average daily power demand is 5000 MW and gas demand is about
1900 MMCF.
• The Effective Power Generation Capacity is 4000 MW and Actual
Daily Gas Supply is 1750 MMCF.
• Transmission Capacities of Power and Gas as well as System loss is
not taken into account here.
• The huge deficit of power and gas supply have created severe
energy crisis.
• The country’s power generation is basically mono fuel based with
about 90% produced from Natural Gas.
• Other options are lone Hydro Electric Plant at Kaptai, The Lone
Coal Based plant at Barapukuria and several small furnace oil and
Diesel Plants in the northern and Southern Region.

Effects of Uncertain Energy Scenario:
• Gas Supply constraint has restricted power generation specifically
in Chittagong region.
• Power Crisis has impeded industrial operation and almost halted
further industrial growth. It tends to stall economy, trade and
• This may put already depleting forest resources under severe
stress with consequent adverse environmental impacts.
• The country may drift into chaos and uncertainty, poverty and
anarchy may trigger terrorism and instability.
• Anti Bangladesh elements may try to brand Bangladesh as a failed
• The opportunity lost may prove catastrophic and may entice yet
more bright and dynamic professionals to migrate to foreign
countries for better living.
• In this technology driven energy world the consequent brain drain
may bring more disasters.
• The potential FDI in energy and downstream sectors may change
direction to Vietnam, Cambodia and other destinations.
• Even Bangladeshi industrial entrepreneurs may lose incentives to
• These will create major unemployment crisis and frustrations.
Reasons For crisis
• Bangladesh failed to set up a functional energy Authority of
competent, honest, dynamic energy professionals due to inappropriate
policy, lack of good governance, inappropriate human resource
development policy.
• Bangladesh even could not organize effective reservoir management
team to asses the exact extent of its reserve and resources and
allowed unnecessary debates of theoreticians and thereby policy
makers got confused and refrained from taking appropriate decisions
at right time.
• Bangladesh could not develop any energy institution capable to
undertake operations independently. Government interfered too much.
• Bangladesh failed to Develop Bapex as flagship national company in
upstream exploration and development.
• Bangladesh failed to set up a competent unit to monitor and mange
operation of IOCs and as such failed to get technology transfer or
control costs of IOCs.
• Bangladesh could not adjust price of fuel in domestic market to
international level. As such the high differential in purchase of
gas from IOCs and selling in domestic market cause tremendous
financial hardship for gas companies. Similarly PDB is in serious
trouble with power from IPPs and BPC is almost on the verge of
collapse for buying Petroleum at sky scraping price and selling at
poor domestic price.
• Energy companies never allowed working with any freedom and
autonomy. Government and Corporation officials dominate company
boards. These make the company autonomy mockery.
• Bangladesh failed to effectively explore and exploit it sizeable
gas and Coal resources to extract maximum national benefit.
• Vast portion of onshore and almost entire off shore area have not
been surveyed even for hydrocarbons and minerals.
• In absence of drilling and depletion strategy Bangladesh destroyed
potential Bakhrabad and Sangu gas structures and also allowed minor
companies like Occidental and Niko to destroy our resources at
Magurchhara and Tengratilla.
• Petrobangla, PDB and Energy Companies are dominated by unworthy
politically blessed civil and Military Bureaucrats and wrong
• Very intelligent energy sector mafias misguided even the Care
Taker Energy Management. In almost a year and a half CTG failed
miserably to bring meaningful changes. Contingency Power Plants are
wrong decision. In future another group of people will be brought to
dock for wrong decisions. The approach for 450 MW major plants at
Nabiganj (Beside Bibiyana) and Sirajganj were OK. But the tendering
and evaluation process followed same fussy route to favor blessed
ones. Wonder whether similar syndicate is involved in Deep water
drilling also.

The present situation requires complete overhauling of energy sector
organizations, management and other related matters. We mostly
agreed on the following short, mid and long term options.

Actions Required:
• Political Commitment and National Consensus to effectively
encounter the Energy Challenges.
• Properly articulated National Energy Vision and defined Time bound
mission to achieve the national vision.
• Energy issues along with Food, Education, Shelter, Medicare, and
Security must be considered basic fundamental rights of the citizen
and must be kept clean of politics.
• Very specific, focussed, comprehensive Energy Sector Master Plan
in pursuance with Country’s Energy Policy must be adopted. This must
include Power sector development plan, gas sector development plan,
Coal sector development plan, Renewable research and development
plan, nuclear options, Regional Energy Trading issues.
• Government must stay out of Energy business and restrict role to
policy formulation.
• Strong Energy Regulatory Commission through transparent policy and
strong auditing create level play ground for private and public
energy companies to mange and operate all segments of energy value
chain in [proper competitive commercial environment.
• Energy Pricing must be market oriented and Regulatory commission
must set proper toll and tariff mechanism.
• LPG and Coal may be used for domestic and commercial sectors
• Construct Gas Transmission loop line from Bakhrabd Gas Field to
Chittagong City Gate Station.
• Cairn must complete further exploration of Mognama and Hatiya and
keep its contingent actions ready to link probable gas wells to
Sangu offshore platform if gas is found.
• If possible scrap the deepwater drilling tender and go for fresh
tender. Arrange proper road shows to attract oil majors to
participate in the bidding. In the meantime we must endeavour to
complete demarcation of maritime boundary and Exclusive Economic
• BAPEX must proceed with Exploration and Development of assigned
blocks. Chevron, Cairn, Tullow and Total must carry out exploration
in assigned blocks or relinquish.
• Bangladesh must reopen discussion with neighbours for a probable
gas and power regional Grid.
• Commence coal exploration at Phulbari without delay in the most
economic and technically appropriate manner. Start Coal based pant
implementation. All shallow coal mines must be put under development
soon with the aim to explore and exploit maximum resources
maintaining required environmental and safety priorities. The
affected people must be properly compensated and rehabilitated.
• Start works for at least 1000MW capacity Nuke plant adopting the
safest and proven technology.
• Aggressively approach Solar, Wind and Bio fuel options. All the
prospects of solar power, wind energy must be exploited. Bangladesh
must seek help of Expatriate Bangladeshi Scientists and
Professionals for Bio Fuels (Oil from Algae). Bangladesh must
interact with Australian Government for Clean Coal Technology and
South African Government for Liquid from Coal.

The caretaker government must also discuss energy sector management
issues with political parties and professional group. If we fail to
appropriately address the present very uncertain and very critical
energy situation properly the national economy may suffer serious
stagnant situation for a long time. This is not desirable for any
peace loving self respecting person.

We must remember continued crisis in Energy sector w3ill cause
disastrous situation in our agriculture, commercial and Industrial
sectors. Economy will become stagnant and even non functional. It is
for our national survival in a very difficult situation we must
immediately agree on basic minimum issues in the shape of National
Energy Agenda.

Posted by Isha Khan, who can be reached at


2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

thanks for providing these necessary informations…

Comment by shakila

Thank u very much. I have got new ideas.

Comment by Md. Hasan Mahmud

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