Dhaka likely to join TAPI project to tap C Asian gas
TAPI accepts proposalManjurul Ahsan
Four-nation TAPI steering committee has accepted an initial proposal of Bangladesh for its inclusion in the trans-border gas pipeline project under which the country would import gas from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, officials said.
It said that Asian Development Bank, on behalf of the steering committee, had sent a letter to the economic relations division of Bangladesh on July 2 with a request to submit a formal proposal to Turkmenistan by July 15.
The steering committee is composed of the deputy chairman of cabinet ministers of Turkmenistan, minister of mines of Afghanistan, minister of petroleum and natural resources of Pakistan and minister of petroleum and natural resources of India.
The ADB is the coordinator and facilitator of the project connecting one of Central Asia’s largest energy suppliers with South Asia’s critically underserved market.
Bangladesh will need to specify technical details like expected gas off-take volume, gas quality, delivery pressure and expected off-take date.
Energy Division officials, however, told New Age that they had not received the letter from ERD. Besides, a technical assessment for the proposed inclusion of Bangladesh into the TAPI project has not yet been made.
An Energy Division official said that Gas Transmission Company Limited had been asked to make a preliminary technical assessment of the proposed inclusion of Bangladesh into the project more than a month ago.
‘But GTCL is yet to submit the report to the ministry,’ he said.
A GTCL official said they would send the report to the ministry soon.
Asked about the government’s plan in this regard, another Energy Division official said that technical and financial feasibility of the project should be assessed first.
‘We may request the ADB to conduct a feasibility study on the viability of extending the TAPI pipeline from
India’s Punjab province to Bangladesh,’ he said.
Bangladesh would go for implementation of the project if the gas imported from Turkmenistan is cheaper than that imported in the form of liquefied natural gas, the official said.
He said that a pipeline and a number of gas compressor stations which would be installed to connect Bangladesh with TAPI would involve a huge investment. In addition, he said Bangladesh would have to participate in installing a 1,680 kilometres pipeline from the gas field in Turkmenistan to India through Afghanistan and Pakistan.
According to an assessment made in 2008, $7.6 billion would be needed for building infrastructure for gas transportation from Turkmenistan to India through Afghanistan and Pakistan.
After a decade-long negotiation, the four nations on May 23 this year signed a gas purchase and sales agreement under which Turkmenistan would supply around 3,200 million cubic feet of gas a day — around 1,350 mmcfd each to Pakistan and India while the rest to Afghanistan — for a 30-year period.
Turkmenistan is expected to supply gas from 2018.
Amid severe energy crisis, Bangladesh initiated negotiations to import gas from energy-rich Central Asia through pipeline in 2010.
At the same time, the government initialled a process to import liquefied natural gas from the Middle East.
It has been assessed that at present, LNG would cost Bangladesh $16 a thousand cubic feet (unit) of gas while the country is buying gas at around $3 a unit from international oil companies which are operating the local gas fields.
Petrobangla, the state-run Oil, Gas and Mineral Resources Corporation, supplies around 2,200 mmcfd gas to the national grid with a shortfall of more than 500 mmcfd against the daily demand.
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