The new-found natural gas in a well at Shahbazpur of Bhola gas field might remain unutilised for a long period due to a very limited demand in the island that is not connected to the national gas grid, industry insiders feared.
State-run Bapex is producing gas of around 40 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd) only, less than the processing capacity of around 75 mmcfd, for lack of adequate consumers there, Bapex managing director Md Nowshad Islam told the FE Wednesday.
Almost half the capacity of the processing plant remains idle, as a result.
The gas field is located at Borhanuddin upazila of Bhola district, which is an island in the Bay of Bengal, and is not connected to the national gas grid.
The Bapex last week flared up gas of around 30 mmcfd at Shahbazpur East-1 well, confirming the presence of new gas there.
"A large volume of gas is feared to remain unutilised in Bhola, if we don't get new consumers there," said the chief of Bangladesh Petroleum Exploration and Production Company Ltd (Bapex).
The island district has an abundant supply of gas -- unlike other parts of the country that have long been facing the energy shortage.
Hundreds of industries, power plants, CNG filling stations and households in different districts across the country are suffering from the gas short supply. At present, the supply would be around 2,700 mmcfd against a demand for over 3,300 mmcfd, according to Petrobangla.
With the presence of new gas in the well, the overall reserve of Shahbazpur field would then stand at more than 1.0 trillion cubic feet (Tcf). The existing reserve is around 600 billion cubic feet (Bcf).
Currently, a 225-megawatt (MW) operational gas-fired power plant, owned by state-run Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB), is the main consumer of Bhola's gas.
The Bapex managing director said they have also plans to drill new well at new area at Bhola North to search new gas. "We've started mobilising drilling rigs to a new site there," he said.
If the drilling result becomes positive, Bhola's natural gas reserve would be significantly higher, he added.
The new gas at Shahbazpur East-1 has been flowing from around 3,500 metres depth and pressure of gas at the new well is around 5,500 pound per square inch (PSI).
"We did not find any well having such significantly high pressure over the past one era," said Mr Islam.
When contacted, Professor M Tamim underscored the need for increasing the number of consumers in Bhola to utilise the new gas. He suggested setting up new gas-fired power plants and gas-based industries while developing new economic zone for utilising the gas.
Mr Tamim, who was the special assistant to the chief adviser of the past caretaker government, however, said the Shahbazpur East-1 was not a newly discovered gas field, but a new well of currently operational Shahbazpur gas field as it exists in the same geological structure.
Russian company Gazprom drilled the well in the selected spot set by Bapex as a contractor, said a Bapex official.
In 1995, Petrobangla discovered the Shahbazpur gas field, initially having a reserve of around 390 Bcf, which was later re-estimated at over 600 Bcf through drilling new wells.