Petrobangla, Bapex poor show vexes Nasrul

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He said the government might ‘revisit’ the exploration company if it kept failing to perform efficiently to help the country overcome its growing energy deficit

State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid on Sudnay came down heavily on Bangladesh Oil, Gas and Mineral Corporation, and Bangladesh Petroleum Exploration and Production Company Limited (Bapex) for their ‘poor performance’.

He said the government might ‘revisit’ the exploration company if it kept failing to perform efficiently to help the country overcome its growing energy deficit. 

He was speaking as the chief guest at a seminar titled “Hydrocarbon Exploration in Bangladesh: Progress and Challenges”.

Bapex, a subsidiary of Petrobangla, organized the seminar at its headquarters in the capital. The state minister launched a standard operating procedure (SOP) for Bapex at the programme. 

SOP is a set of step-by-step instructions to help workers carry out routine operations. 

“The government cannot take blame for your (Bapex’s) failure. If we assess your performance, you will find yourselves in trouble,” Nasrul warned.

“We have already assessed the manpower in the power sector. The same way we may check Bapex and its human resources,” he cautioned. 

He warned that foreign companies might take its place if Bapex continued to perform poorly.  

Nasrul expressed his wonder over a sentence in the keynote paper on the issue presented at the seminar that reads “Wild animals remain a challenge to onshore gas well exploration.” 

“How could wild animals be an obstacle? How can a snake bite pose a challenge to digging wells?” asked Nasrul, and added, “You are the challenge to yourselves.” 

“Bapex had a history of success, but it has been failing for the last few years. This can’t continue and the same applies to Petrobangla,” he added.   

Abu Hena Md Rahmatul Muneem, senior secretary to the Energy and Mineral Resources Division, said: “Petrobangla and Bapex were never expected to operate in this way.”

“Both the organizations are reluctant to share any information (relating to hydrocarbon reserve, resources or exploration) as if those are highly confidential and would wreak havoc in the country if revealed,” Muneem said.    

However, Bapex Managing Director Mir Md Abdul Hannan, defended his organization and claimed to have global standard performance. 

“We dug 15 wells and explored gas from six of them. If you compare the success rate, it is at par with average global standard,” he told reporters.

The Petrobangla Chairman Md Ruhul Amin said: “Nothing is above criticism, but we have to proceed further overcoming all loopholes and odds.”  

Major failure of Bapex

During the previous tenure of the incumbent government, Bapex undertook an initiative to develop 108 onshore wells between 2016 and 2021. 

Of the wells, Bapex was supposed to search 53 wells, dig 35 development wells, and complete the work of 20 wells to materialize the government’s Vision-2021. 

But the plans were recently shelved. Only four wells were drilled until June last year, sources said.

The country is facing a massive gas supply shortage of 1,200mmcfd, against the daily demand of 4,000mmcfd.

To mitigate the crisis, the government started importing expensive liquefied natural gas from last year, as the exploration of onshore gas fields has been very poor for the last five-six years.