Friday, June 19, 2009

Experts’ suggest coal export in ‘special circumstances’

Staff Correspondent, NewAge, June 19, 2009

The non-resident Bangladeshi ‘experts’ have recommended that the government should keep open in the coal policy an option for coal export in ‘special circumstances’.

They have also recommended not banning or favouring any coal mining method in the policy and stressed that a mining method is selected for ‘maximum extraction of coal’ considering environment.

The recommendations came in the four-day coal mining workshop that ended on Thursday at Jamuna Resort in Tangail.

Explaining special circumstances for coal export, the coordinator of the ‘experts’ Dr Nasif Ahmed, an expert on networking of people, told reporters in a press briefing that if any surplus coal remained stockpiled for days, there would be no alternative but to export them.

‘If two out of four coal-based power plants go out of order and the coal cannot be stored, it can be exported in this circumstance. This kind of situation has already become obvious in the Barapukuria coal field,’ he said.

Petrobangla chairman Muktedir Ali told reporters they had requested the government to allow export of two lakh tonnes of coal from the Barapkuria coal mine as they could not store more coals at present.

‘We have 2.5 lakh tonnes of coal stockpiled at Barapkuria as the 250MW coal-based power plant is not operating in its full capacity. The field is producing around 3000-4000 tonnes coal a day. There is no more space for storing coal,’ he said.

Muktedir said that they had already invited local tender to sell the coal but did not get satisfactory response.

Professor M Khalequzzaman from Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania, USA, said they thought Bangladesh was not in a position to export any energy resources like coal as it was facing energy shortage.

He said they could not reach on any ‘specific agreement’ on coal mining method but they reached a consensus that mining method should focus maximum extraction keeping environment into consideration.

Khalequzzaman read out the recommendations that included expansion of use of coal beyond power generation, building institutional capability and develop skilled manpower on coal by developing ‘Coal Bangla,’ a national organisation.

He said the environmental quality standard had to be formulated for coal extraction.

Nafis claimed that they had given their independent opinions on the coal policy.

The government gave them the latest version of coal policy, which was formulated by the interim government by changing the draft policy finalised by the committee headed by former BUET vice chancellor Abdul Matin Patwari, before the eight NRB ‘experts’.

The panel also said Bangladesh would be able to run four power plants each with 500MW capacity if the coal could be extracted from both the Barapukuria and the Fulbaria coal mines.

They suggested mobilising fund for coal extraction from government exchequer, stock market, public-private partnership initiatives, bank loans and security bonds.

At the press briefing, energy secretary Mohammad Mohsin said, ‘The government wants that the coal policy is formulated as soon as possible. But I cannot say exactly when the proposed coal policy will be finalised.’