Monday, 21 April 2014

Chittagong, Bangladesh: Bangladesh is seeking to import natural gas from Burma to run its gas-guzzling fertilizer factories to fulfill local demand, according to a high level energy official..

"We have discussed with a top energy ministry official of Myanmar over the issue recently," Petrobangla Chairman Hussain Monsur. “The Myanmar official responded positively to our proposal.”

"The gas importing issue will be discussed further during the forthcoming visit of Burmese President U Thein Sein."

Bangladesh has come up with the new proposal to import Burma’s natural gas for fertilizer as its previous proposal to import natural gas for 'all-purpose' did not get adequate response from the Burma side, a senior energy ministry official said.

“Burma did not turn down Bangladesh's 2008 proposal of importing natural gas but had said it could consider it only after producing adequate gas from its prospective gas fields. Now, we have proposed to export fertilizer to Burma if Burma consider of our proposal –to import natural gas.”

Bangladesh currently has nine fertilizer factories having production capacity of around 2.0 million tons per year but most of the factories are running far below their capacity due to short supply of natural gas, a senior official of state-owned Bangladesh Chemical Industries Corporation (BCIC) said.

Bangladesh has to import fertilizer from other countries to meet local demand every year, said the official of BCCI which controls the fertilizer factories.

Despite having sufficient natural gas, Burma has limited fertilizer production capacity of around 100,000 tons per year against the demand for over 1.5 million tones, sources said.

Fertilizer is among the major import of Burma and which is expensive in the local market. Large quantity of Bangladesh’s fertilizers is smuggled into Burma through the border.

As Myanmar does not have enough fertilizer production, it has shown interest to import fertilizer from Bangladesh after supplying natural gas to produce fertilizer.

If everything goes smoothly, Bangladesh will import gas from Arakan State of neighboring Burma through pipeline.

Burma has a significantly good gas reserve of around 8 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) in Arakan, some 200 km away from Chittagong port where a couple of big Bangladeshi fertilizer factories are located.

Justifying Bangladesh's gas import, a senior energy ministry official also said the country's 'over-dependency' on natural gas coupled with absence of necessary exploratory works have pushed the country into a vulnerable position in terms of gas reserves.

U Min Lwin, the outgoing Ambassador of Burma made a farewell call on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her Gonobhaban residence on May 14 where she expressed her government’s interest to enhance cooperation with Burma in energy sector saying Bangladesh is keen to import surplus hydroelectric power from Rakhine (Arakan) and Chin states of Burma at mutual convenient rate.

“The people of Burma are not getting electricity properly, people now demanding 24 hours electricity everywhere. If Burma export gas or electricity from Arakan State, the people from Arakan state will be suffer more than other part of Burma,” said  a politician from Maungdaw.