Energy Security and Bangladesh

Energy Security and Bangladesh

Energy plays an important role in the national security of any given country as a fuel to power the economic engine Energy security means diversifying from fossil fuels to renewable energy and ensuring energy at all times for promotion of economic growth.

.Bangladesh needs more than 7% per cent GDP growth for achieving the seven millennium goals and the country needs an energy growth rate of more than 10.5% per cent.

It means raising energy production and/or increasing the reliability of imported or domestic supplies. And for this to happen, it is imperative to have a well-thoughtout energy national plan for short term, mid-term and long term.

Another dimension of threats to energy security may emanate from physical damage to the energy infrastructure (pipeline) either of the supplier, or of the importer as a result of natural events, misfortune, terrorism, or warfare.

The government will have to consider months and years ahead how to meet the energy requirement for the country. Without such forward thinking, the country’s economic progress will be impeded.

There is currently a shortage of power between 1500 and 2,000 MW in the country and as a result the people in the country suffer at least 4 to 5 hours load-shedding (power outages) on daily basis. During this summer extreme heat (39 to 42 C), a record of high temperature for last 12 years in the country, makes the load-shedding unbearable, leading to diarrhoea and respiratory-related diseases.

In the country, it is reported that only 32% per cent of the total population has access to electricity. It is believed that the demand is likely to grow almost 50% per cent in the next 15 years and Bangladesh needs to increase the capacity to 8,000 MW by 2010, according to one estimate.

Two-third of the country’s commercial energy consumption is met from natural gas while the remainder is from oil augmented by hydropower and coal. That means 70% per cent of commercial needs is from natural gas, 25% per cent from imported oil and 5% per cent comes from coal and hydropower.

According to energy experts, the estimated proved plus probable reserve of gas stands at 20.19 Trillion Cubic Feet (TCF) By 2015, there will be a gap between demand and supply If possible reserves and yet to find reserves are proven, Bangladesh will fail to meet demand in 2023.

During the span of 1972-2008, 173 wells including 26 offshore wells were drilled by Petrobangla and foreign oil companies. The success ratio in the offshore is much less than onshore (3:1 for onshore wells).

It is reported that Bangladesh Petroleum Exploration Company (Bapex) aims at striking around 2.5 trillion cubic feet (TCF) gas and providing an extra 200 million cubic feet gas per day (mcfd) within next seven years. Some experts estimate that the country could find gas reserves of 50-60 trillion cubic feet

Some energy experts say that the exploration activities of BAPEX onshore need to be enhanced and should go for joint ventures to explore risky areas. Embargo on signing PSC onshore Bangladesh should be lifted immediately.

There are several ways the country may face the challenges and they are as follows:

First, the government may encourage the local investment companies, besides foreign companies, in the energy sector with attractive incentives to explore. Second, the need is to explore for regional electricity and gas grid. Third, it may expand development of clean coal production. It is estimated that the total reserves of coal are estimated at about 1.75 billion tons in the country. Fourth, development of renewable resources, such as solar, wind, and tidal waves must be initiated. Fifth, nuclear energy option must be taken seriously. It emits no harmful gases or toxic metals into the environment. And, unlike hydroelectric dams, it does not alter a region’s ecosystem.

Renewable resources:

As regards solar energy, daily average solar radiation in the country reportedly varies between 4 to 6.5 kWh per square meter with maximum amount of radiation available in the months of March-April and minimum in December-January.

The normal tidal wave that rises and falls in the coastal region of Bangladesh is between two and eight meters. This tidal range can easily be converted to pollution free clean renewable energy by using the simple low-cost technology of a “tidal wheel” in the sluice gates. In this case, Portugal has been successful in harnessing tidal waves into energy.

The strong south/south-westerly monsoon wind, coming from the Indian Ocean enter into the coastal areas of Bangladesh from March to October. This wind enhances speed onwards V-shaped coastal regions in Bangladesh, as research stated.

Stabilisation policies:

Bangladesh may have to develop certain policies to reduce the impact of high volatility in the oil market. The government may create an oil contingency fund by levying a tax on the sale of oil and oil products to finance the additional burden during high price of oil. Furthermore a strategic petroleum reserve over time may be established for the use during the high prices of oil and replenished when prices fall.

Regional cooperation:

It is not enough to develop a national energy plan. Regional policies may be thought of to stabilize energy supply. South Asia has an economic hydropower potential of over 211,431 MW. (Nepal is estimated to have potential of 80,000 MW) that would meet the needs of the region.

The countries may be encouraged to develop a master plan identifying the hydropower sources in the region.

By Barrister Harun ur Rashid
Former Bangladesh Ambassador to the UN, Geneva.

Place your ads here!

No comments

Write a comment
No Comments Yet! You can be first to comment this post!

Write a Comment