Bangladesh may have higher gas reserves than estimated

September 18th, 2009 - 1:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Sheikh Hasina Dhaka, Sep 18 (IANS) Bangladesh may have surplus gas reserves, something past governments have denied, as per revised estimates being examined by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government.
Hasina told a meeting with energy officials Thursday that it was “good news for the country” that the gas reserve at Bibiyana, the country’s second-largest, was much higher than the earlier estimate.

She was hopeful that more gas would be found, said a source who was present at the meeting.

US gas and oil multinational Chevron has submitted to the state-run Petrobangla a new estimate of gas reserve in the Bibiyana field, putting the “proven recoverable reserve” at 4.4 trillion cubic feet (TCF), up by a staggering amount of 2.7 TCF, said Petrobangla officials.

“We have now formed a committee to scrutinise the company’s new estimate. If the findings are right, production at the Bibiyana gas-field could be increased to around 1,000 million cubic feet per day in the next two years from the present production of 670 mcfd,” Petrobangla’s chairman Muqtadir Ali told New Age Thursday.

As per the new estimate, the “gas in place or proven gas reserve” of the field has been put at 6.6 trillion cubic feet, of which 4.4 TCF is recoverable, said Petrobangla officials.

The earlier estimate had showed that the proven gas reserve was around 2.51 TCF, and Petrobangla, which coordinates the gas and oil exploration, had estimated that around 60-70 percent of the reserve was recoverable.

The availability of gas and if it can be exported has been a subject of political controversy in Bangladesh.

Unocal, another American MNC that had carried out explorations, had given higher estimates and had sought to impress upon the political leadership that only by exporting gas could Dhaka’s exploration and production be cost-effective.

However, there were differences over selling gas to immediate neighbour India and lower estimates of gas reserves from among the explorers became the benchmarks.

An attempt by Indian business house Tata to set up gas-based industries in Bangladesh to allow the use of gas locally failed. Tata’s $3 billion offer was found “politically sensitive” by the Khaleda Zia government which was in power 2001-06.

Petrobangla officials said that Chevron submitted its new estimate, made by another US consultant, Degolyer and MacNaughton, Sep 13.

Muqtadir Ali said that the new estimate puts the total ‘proven plus provable reserve’ at more than seven TCF and the ‘proven plus probable plus possible’ reserve at more than eight TCF.

He claimed that the new estimate would remove the confusion surrounding the gas reserve and daily production rate at the Bibiyana field.

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