The news that Brunei is interested to supply liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Bangladesh is a welcome update. Brunei's top diplomat in Dhaka had expressed the interest while he met the Energy State Minister in the latter's office on Sunday as reported by this paper. Brunei is one of the largest producers of natural gas in the world. Besides, it has huge reserves of petroleum. Currently, it sells substantial amounts of LNG to Japan and Korea. Bangladesh will definitely require vast quantities of LNG import in the coming days because of its growing economy. At the moment Qatar and Oman are the two countries that take care of the total import of Bangladesh's LNG needs. Starting in April 2018, Bangladesh's 'floating storage and regasification unit' (FSRU) has been linked to the national grid of gas pipelines. As of the latest information available from Petrobangla, five dozens of LNG cargoes have so far been imported. Besides, Bangladesh has short-listed seventeen global suppliers for purchase of LNG that includes Indonesia and Brunei. There is a memorandum of understanding between Bangladesh and Brunei for the purpose; and although we only know that the Brunei side is interested to advance the issue further, how long it will take for Brunei gas to flow through the Bangladesh pipelines is not yet known as international contacts definitely take time to mature into contracts.
Bangladesh's interest in LNG import from Brunei should lie in the fact that the maritime distance from Brunei is a good six hundred to one thousand nautical miles less than that of our current suppliers. Thus, the import price with a lower freight cost is likely to be reasonable. Bangladesh needs all doors to remain open for its rising needs. Indeed, the short-listed companies need further examination and opening for the same reason of broadening the base of supply. `Gas-guzzling' is the word that has been applied to our consumers, both individual and industrial. Therefore, alongside ensuring economic use of gas which is a finite resource, Bangladesh should be looking to broaden its supply base. Brunei is different from the rest in that apart from being the closest of potential and actual suppliers, it is also a country that has shown extra willingness to sell its commodity to Bangladesh. Fifteen to 30,000 Bangladeshis work in Brunei. The employers there are known for being moderate and welcoming. The number would appear larger if compared to Brunei's population of less than half a million. Employment can also expand with stronger bilateral economic ties. Brunei, being in the top echelon of countries with a high per capita income, has also an eye on expanding air transport communication with Bangladesh.
Brunei's LNG offer is a blessing of sorts in that it gives us a chance to reach a win-win situation for both at the soonest. Immediate efforts should be made to turn the memorandum of understanding into live and mutually beneficial agreement. As is expected, Brunei's offer would be a first-rate one as proven by their current business practices with Japan and Korea. Petrobangla should right away step in and seize the opportunity. The path of our economic progress dictates that we open the energy supply doors all around. However, Brunei geographically being the closest potential supplier of our LNG needs, its latest offer requires instant attention and fruition.