Saturday, May 31, 2008

Draft coal policy to be sent for law ministry vetting in 10 days: Tamim

NewAge, Dhaka, Bangladesh May 31 2008

The energy division has almost finalised the draft of the coal policy and will send it to the law mining for vetting within next seven to ten days, said the special assistant to the chief adviser for power and energy ministry, M Tamim, on Friday.

‘We have almost completed scrutiny of the draft policy submitted by the committee [advisory committee]. No major changes have been made in the draft. Only some structural changes have been made’, he said at a seminar on ‘Energy Security and Development: Perspective Bangladesh’, organised by the Bangladesh Institute of Law and International Affairs and Bangladesh Heritage Foundation.

‘The draft policy will be sent to the law ministry for vetting in seven to ten days. The policy will be placed before the council of advisers soon’, he added.

Tamim said that the coal sector had to be developed for meeting the growing demand for energy. Coal will be used in power generation and the industries, fertiliser plants and CNG refuelling stations should get preference in gas supply.

He said that many of the projects of the energy sector were undertaken from political consideration although energy sector should be treated as a commercial business sector. ‘Many oppose a project for the sake of opposition. They oppose it on political ground while others support the same project for different political reasons. No one considers the merit of the project’, he said.

Tamim said he believed that around 15 trillion cubic feet of more gas could be explored from the onshore areas of the country but the exploration activities needed investment.

He said that they had started work on formulating a policy for installation of power plants by public-private joint initiative, in which the government would own 51 per cent of the plant and private entrepreneurs 49 per cent.

Professor Iajaz Hossain of BUET, who presented the key-note paper at the seminar, said that the present energy situation in Bangladesh was not bad considering the global context and the present price of crude oil of over $130 per barrel which had also worried the United States.

He claimed that Bangladesh had an existing gas reserve of 12 tcf which might take 18 years to exhaust if the demand did not increase and it might be used up in 10 years if the demand increased by six per cent.

He said he believed there was a potential of exploring 30 tcf of gas – 5tcf from the existing fields, 10 tcf from the new onshore fields and 15tcf from offshore areas.

Besides, he said, Bangladesh had a coal reserve of two billion tonnes which could generate 10,000 megawatts of electricity for 50 years.

Iajaz said that the open-pit coal mine should be allowed in Bangladesh as India met 80 per cent of its demand for coal from open-pit mines.

Speakers at the seminar stressed the need for establishing a regional power grid by inter-connecting neighbouring countries.

Among others military secretary to the president, major general Aminul Karim, Petrobangla chairman Jalal Ahmed and former Power Development Board chairman Qamrul Islam Siddiqui spoke at the seminar, presided over by BILIA director, Waliur Rahman.