Geologists' plea to keep inland gas under local management

Geologists’ plea to keep inland gas under local management


Some geologists have once again raised their voice for earmarking the exploration of oil and gas in inland blocks for local companies. This is nothing against foeign companies, but at simple logic of keeping exploration and production costs down.

If one goes back to the recent past one would find that gas pries in the local market shot up in the early nineties primarily because the production and marketing costs of the foreign companies like Cairn Energy were five to six times more than those of the local companies because the former employed more expensive engineers, consultants and and equipment to carry out exploration and production activities. The living expenses of the foreign cos staff are also higher and all those add to their cost of production which is markedly low in case of local companies which pay their engineers, technicians and general staff as per local pay scales. Another disadvantage is, foreign companies higher local engineers for higher pay and perks and this creates a pressue on the local companies which fail to retain their qualified and experienced staff to work for them.

But the local companies did explore and develop all the inland oil and gas blocks in the past. What they lack is the experise, experience and the financial resources for oil and ga exploraions at sea for which support fom International Oil Comanies (OICs) is needed.

Against this backdop a platform of university teachers, styled ‘Bishwabidyaloyer Sachetan Shikkhak Samaj’, on Sunday demanded of the government to step back from its move to offer gas exploration bid in inland gas blocks to foreign companies.

Addressing a protest rally at the Centre for Advanced Research in Sciences (CARS) at DhakaUniversity, the university teachers said such a move will lead to increased stake of foreign companies in the explored gas and it will put the energy security of the country at risk.

On behalf of the platform, Prof Badrul Imam of DU Geology Department said the government’s move to offer gas exploration bid of inland gas fields to foreign companies is self-contradictory as it had earlier decided not to do so.

It will also hamper the goal of achieving self-sufficiency of Bangladesh Petroleum Exploration and Production Company (Bapex) in gas exploration and drilling, he added.

Presided over by Prof Badrul Imam, the meeting was also addressed by Prof Anu Muhammad of the Economics Department of JahangirnagarUniversity and Prof MM Akash of the DU Economics Department.

What the teaches have demanded is not backed by any desire to recommend any company or group of companies to get the work. They almost surely do not represnt any vested interest, nor are they opposed to foreign companies doing exploration in off-shore areas.

What’s more unfortunately two IOCs in just one decade caused colossal damages to the gas setor of the country by blowing up to big gas fields inside rainforests just due to sheer negligence. One of the companies tried to make an excuse saying that they were unaware of the environmental laws in force in Bangladesh to be complined with. No comprnsation has been paid by them.

The government shall do better if it listens to them in the greater interest of the nation and the consumers who then shall get gas at cheaper costs that will further acccelerte economic activities in the country. The govnment shall also save money by not being compelled to subsidise the gas that it has to buy from foreign companies at higher costs to sell at lesses prices -UNB


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