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Govt won’t continue energy supply at cheap rate for a long period: Muhith

Price of LNG in int'l mkt several times higher compared to local gas price

FE Report | March 14, 2018 00:00:00

Finance Minister AMA Muhith Tuesday spelled out the government's inability to continue providing energy support at cheap rates for long as LNG (liquefied natural gas) is expected to arrive in the domestic market from April.

"We shall not be able to continue supplying energy cheaply for a long period. The price of LNG in international market is several times higher compared to local gas price," he said.

Mr Muhith, however, opined for continuation of providing subsidy to ensure that it remains within the capacity of consumers.

The minister was speaking as the chief guest at a seminar titled, "Emerging role of BERC in 2021 and 2041," in a city hotel Tuesday. Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) organised the seminar in observance of its 16th founding anniversary where Prime Minister's adviser on energy issues Dr Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury attended as the special guest.

BERC member Md Mizanur Rahman delivered the keynote paper in the seminar, presided over by BERC chairman Monwar Islam.

Some speakers at the seminar opined for empowering BERC with full independence to ensure sustainable energy security and protect the rights of consumers and businesspeople.

Energy adviser said the BERC is not an independent body but a statutory body.

He stressed for resolving the country's future challenges considering own contexts.

Energy secretary Nazimuddin Chowdhury said the FSRU (floating storage, re-gasification unit)-based LNG terminal would be commissioned on April 25.

He said the imported LNG would be blended with local gas to keep the price rational.

"But with the increase of LNG imports, the tariff might go higher," said Mr Chowdhury.

The government has speed up the exploration activities to discover new gas and reduce dependency on imported LNG, he said.

The symptom of declining natural gas supply from local reserves is imminent from 2021, said Petrobangla chairman Abul Mansur Md Faizullah.

He said the BERC's challenge would be enormous to check gas pilferage, ensure modern and efficient equipment by consumers.

Professor M Tamim opined for introducing market-based pricing of energy.

"It is the consumers who would decide which type of energy they would consume," he said.

The BERC has been carrying out only 30 per cent of its designated works as the commission is not deciding on the change of oil price, not ensuring energy auditing and energy efficiency, Mr Tamim added.

President of Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) Golam Rahman stressed for transferring the BERC under law ministry's jurisdiction to ensuring its independence.

Mr Rahman, who is also an ex-BERC chairman laid the emphasis for closing down the rental and quick rental oil-fired power plants to reduce electricity generation costs.Power secretary Ahmed Kaikaus and Editor of Energy & Power, a journal Mollah Amzad also spoke on the occasion.

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