Published: Saturday, April 6, 2013

Editorial

Critical dependence on gas for power

Give a reality check to the approach

SEVERAL power projects face uncertainty owing to a gas supply crunch, as our front-page report on Thursday underscored in no uncertain terms. Take it as a warning signal for lessening the critical dependence on gas-based power plants.

Whilst gas supply constraints keep several power plants idle, some new plants are poised to start operating this year without, it seems, an assured guarantee for gas supply. The problem is that most of the new power projects were taken in hand on the basis of Petrobangla’s 2011 projection which has proved wrong by a wide margin. Against the projected availability of 2,465 million mmcfd in December ’15 what we get is less than half of that figure.

The government is implementing 14 large gas-based and three dual-fuel (gas or oil) power projects in the next two years with 6000 megawatt capacity. This is as much as we regularly produce in the country. But the assumptions on which the power projects are to be implemented are tenuous as there is deficit between projected and actual gas availabilities.

The other issue is purely administrative, sufficiently debilitating that it is. Petrobangla and Power Development Board are caught up in a state of dissonance. For instance, while the chairman Petrobangla cut back on projection, some gas sector initiatives having failed, the Power Division apparently overlooked the realistic calculation and went ahead awarding contracts to different companies to set up plants. As a matter of fact, the Petrobangla chief refrained from giving gas supply clearance to many of the new projects. The whole issue requires a reappraisal to link projects to steady availability of fuel.

It is a pity that ‘PDB signs contracts with parties to set up gas-fueled plants without obtaining gas supply assurances from Petrobangla’. This is lack of coordination at its worst; for, the cost of miscalculation can be very dear for the fate of the projects. This can mean snapped generation of electricity we should do without.