Coal News of Phulbari – Bangladesh

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Archive for September, 2009

Time to Ignore National Committee for Protection of Oil, Gas and Ports

Posted by phulbarinews on September 2, 2009

Saleque Sufi

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One very disturbing news appeared in media report. So called National Committee for Protection of Oil, Gas and Ports (OGPPC) of Bangladesh has announced a program to seize Petrobangla Head Office on 2nd September ,2009as a mark of protest to lease out offshore blocks to IOCs for exploration of Petroleum.

It may be mentioned here that

On August 24, Bangladesh approved offshore oil and gas exploration deals with the two companies in three sea blocks in the resource-rich Bay, although the deals stipulated that they would not be permitted to operate in any disputed waters in the areas.

The media report says

Quote.
The group, calling itself the ‘national committee to protect oil, gas, mineral resources, power and ports’, said the prime minister’s approval of offshore oil and gas exploration deals in the Bay of Bengal to two international companies, ConocoPhillips and Tullow Oil plc, ran counter to her pre-election pledges.

“The government is trading on the nation’s assets by allocating oil and gas rights in the Bay to a multinational companies,” Sheikh Shahidullah, the group’s convener, told reporters at a press briefing at Mukti Bhaban in the city.

“We won’t let a single drop of oil or gas leave the country,” said Shahidullah.

In addition to the planned siege at state-owned Petrobangla’s Kawran Bazar headquarters, Shahidullah said protests would also be held out at UNO offices around the country.

Unquote

Present Government of Bangladesh is given mandate to rule the country for 5 years. They are accountable to the nation through sovereign parliament. There are specific government organisations responsible for dealing with Energy issues. Petrobangla and Energy Ministry are responsible bodies to explore and exploit all natural resources for energy generation. Elected Peoples representatives are mandated to take decisions. Prime Minister is also the energy minister. She and her cabinet are jointly responsible to the parliament. There are set rules and policies to deal with energy issues. Draft PSC that formed the basis of recent Award was formulated by line professionals, scrutinised and vetted by eminent Energy Lawyer, vetted by Ministry of law and approved by relevant government authority. The IOCs were selected through open transparent competitive bidding. Any true energy expert having hands on experience and knowledge of PSCs in operation elsewhere will opine that draft PSC based on which the approval for ward is made is pretty standard practised everywhere. Moreover PSCs are not yet signed. There is scope to negotiate all issues.

Moreover, the issue will definitely come out for discussion in the parliament and in the parliamentary standing committee. Myanmar, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam have engaged IOCs are PSC. It is nothing unique for Bangladesh.

But this group of vested interest backed up by parasite political parties are creating hue and cry. They recently staged road march. In Bangladesh hundreds of unemployed people crowd around when snake charmers play snakes or monkey charmers play monkeys. So road march also attracted some on lookers. The fact that some people came to see them on the way does not mean that they support tem. So there is no reason to believe that OGGPC agitation has any public support. They are getting money from some NGOs to serve the cause of some neighbouring countries who do not want Bangladesh explore in the Offshore.

Media report also Quoted a leader saying

“The present government has decided to allow 80 percent export of our resources by multinational companies ConocoPhillips and Tullow Oil on a tender based on the anti-public interest model, devised during the tenure of the previous unelected government,”

This statement is complete misinterpretation of PSC provision. The term export in LNG plants or Chemical plants does not always mean export to foreign countries. Whatever usually goes out as end product of a chemical plant is technically termed as export. We have a multinational KAFCO plant. When KAFCO sales Urea Fertilizer to Bangladesh Government it is termed export also.

IOCs winning offshore blocks will first carry out seismic surveys and extensive study of resources base on which they will carry out exploration. The question of setting up LNG plant will only come up if there is a significant discovery (5-6Tcf). The LNG plant may be set up in Bangladesh onshore or offshore. If any IOC discover a gas field 200KM from Bangladesh coast the offshore pipeline will be very expensive investment. But anyway say LNG plant is built and say 80% of ultimate recoverable reserve is dedicated for LNG plant how does it harm Bangladesh. In this 80% significant portion will be Bangladesh share of gas which IOCs have to buy at international price.

IOCs will have to take Petrobangla approval for exporting LNG to any one and also about the price. Why Bangladesh can not be the export destination as Bangladesh is already thinking about LNG import in any case. IOCs will take about 9 years to reach that stage. By that time situation will change. Bangladesh may build LNG terminals and Regasification plants at Chittagong and Mongla to import LNG. Coal may become main source of power generation .Regional power grid may set up.

IOCs will invest their borrowed capital to risk ventures .Offshore drilling is always a gamble. There are chances to loose many and win few. If IOCs do not have required incentives then why they should come to a country like Bangladesh?

People have right to ask who are OGPPPC? Some identified agitators backed up by some parasite political parties. These satellite political parties can not win any election unless supported by major alliance. They cry for communism and socialism which is dead horse. Even our neighbours recently bade good bye to it.

This group agitated people of Phulabri and still trying to fan up trouble in mine belt. When major opposition BNP, Jamat and others are not telling anything why this group is opposing government efforts? It is due to the agitation of OGPPC energy crisis has reached at this stalemate stage.

What are their logic of of opposing commencement of exploration in our territorial water when India and Myanmar are doing it unchallenged. Are they not serving our neighbours cause creating impediments?

Our coal is sweet and almost sulphur free. Most of these are lying at mineable depth by surface mining. Resources under surface is owned by Government .If owners of surface are adequately compensated then who are OGPPC to oppose any move to mining in the most economic method.

Our neighbours dump polluting poor quality coal to Bangladesh which they even do not use in their country. If one travels along highway from Joydevppor towards Kaliakoir from November to April one can see how dirty coal is polluting our environment. Has anyone heard OGPPC talk about Environment pollution by using dirty imported coal? Intelligent people can understand what they are up to. These guys do not want Bangladesh explore most of its coal by the most economic method.

The OGGPPC program against government action must be dealt with properly.Peole must realise these are the people whom are serving b neighbours interest and not Bangladeshi interest. Bangladesh will not be benefitted by leaving 80% of its coal underground, Bangladesh will not gain anything if our offshore prospects remain unexplored and neighbours drain all.

Business communities, investors want Energy. Bangladesh can not come out of vicious circle of poverty if massive investment is not made. That is possible if Energy Situation improves, Energy situation will improve if we only explore and exploit our natural resources. We need IOCs and IPPs work here through transparent policies.

Many people shout on the street. But there are no reasons to listen to all as long as Government remains accountable to people through parliament.

Government must read the writings on the wall. People have started coming to the streets for power, gas . OGPPC type agitators’ will misguide them. These guys are Energy Criminals – modern version of War Criminals. They are no less responsible for the present energy crisis. Time has come for sufferers of energy crisis to resist trouble makers the agitators who are acting as agents of neighbours to oppose Government moves to explore and exploit our energy resources. These guys are empty vessel paper tigers.

Source: http://www.energybangla.com/index.php?mod=article&cat=SomethingtoSay&article=2036

Date: 30 August 2009, Bangladesh

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