Prime Minister desires Sweden's greater investment in ICT, economic zones
Staff Correspondent, Barta24.com
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has called for more Swedish investment in economic zones and information & communication technology (ICT) in Bangladesh. She said, we want more investment from Sweden in ICT and economic areas of Bangladesh.
She said this when a Swedish delegation led by CEO and President of Swedish clothing company H&M Helena Helmerson paid a courtesy call on the Prime Minister on Tuesday at Ganabhaban, the Prime Minister's official residence.
Prime Minister's Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim said this.
The prime minister said that the Awami League government wants to expand the export basket by diversifying the export products.
She said, Bangladesh has its own economic policy. Apart from creating employment, there are also plans for poverty alleviation, food security and health care.
Referring to the steps taken to combat climate change, the Prime Minister said that our government is effectively dealing with the effects of climate change. Governments are very aware of the impact of climate change. This is being worked on.
The Prime Minister said that the government is working with highest priority to ensure women's empowerment and gender equality. She also appreciated the Swedish move of not canceling any purchase orders from Bangladesh during the bad times arising out of the Covid-19 pandemic despite the global outbreak of the coronavirus.
On the other hand, H&M President Helena Helmerson said that they have a special relationship with Bangladesh.
She said, we have been doing business with Bangladesh for the last three decades. We want to take business with Bangladesh further.
Helena Helmerson lauded the Prime Minister's leadership for the remarkable socio-economic development of Bangladesh and for ensuring the country's progress by successfully controlling the Covid-19 situation.
At this time, Prime Minister's private industry and investment advisor Salman Fazlur Rahman, Principal Secretary of the Prime Minister Tofazzel Hossain Mia, Swedish Ambassador to Dhaka Alexandra Berg von Linde and H&M Chief Financial Officer Adam Carlson were present.
Bangladesh will go 6 km below the ground to search for gas
Serajul Islam Siraj, Special Correspondent, Barta24.com Dhaka
Bangladesh has decided to break the conventional 4 km depth for oil and gas exploration and will go to 6 km. In the first phase, it has been decided to drill one exploratory well each at Titas, Bakhrabad, Srikail and Mubarakpur.
State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid told Barta24.com that we are going for deep drilling. It has been decided to appoint a consultant for this. The process has already started. We expect good stock to be available.
In Bangladesh, gas is generally extracted by drilling wells from 2600 meters to 4000 meters. However, some wells including Fenchuganj-2 have been drilled up to 4900 meters. Below the gas layer is solid rock. A three-dimensional (3D) survey by BAPEX suggests there may be gas layers beneath. In that 3D it is said that Srikail can contain 926 Bcf (billion cubic feet) and Titas 1 thousand 583 Bcf of gas. In all, reserves may amount to as much as two and a half TCF (trillion cubic feet). However, what lies below the solid rock layer, has not been seen by drilling wells. And until the well is dug, nothing can be said for sure. That is why Bangladesh is going to dig wells.
According to Petrobangla sources, plans have been made for deep drilling in 2 wells of Bangladesh Gas Field Company (BGFCL) and 2 wells of Bangladesh Petroleum Exploration and Production Company (Bapex). These are BGFCL's Titas gas field well number 31 and Bakhrabad-11 well. Two of Bapex are Srikail and Mubarakpur. Bapex will invite tenders for appointing consultants. Consultants will work under them. Further action will be taken based on that report. Since domestic companies have no experience in deep drilling, they are more likely to hire foreign contractors to drill wells.
Managing Director of BGFCL Abdus Sultan told Barta24.com that there is a lot of potential in the psychic survey. That is why initiatives have been taken to excavate 5600 meters in Titas-31 and Bakhrabad-11. We expect to discover much larger reserves.
Former member of Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission, energy expert Maqbool E-Elahi Chowdhury told Barta24.com that the decision of deep drilling is good, it should be done. There is an over pressure-under pressure problem. It is very very challenging. This layer is located just after the hyper pressure zone. It took 2 years and 4 months to dig 4 thousand meters. Skilled and qualified people are needed to make quick decisions. Who will be able to make decisions as needed from the field all the time. In case of urgent need, they do not have to look at Petrobangla or Division of Energy and Mineral Resources. If there is an urgent need to wait for permission by letter, then the matter will be dangerous. Search activities cannot be done by DPP. Terrible things can happen if you don't give immediate decision here.
In response to the question about the possibility, he said, if gas reserves are found there, then a large reserve will be found.
But some consider it a luxury. Their point is that we have many places where it is possible to get guaranteed gas easily. Not going to all those places is wasting time and money.
Amjad Hossain, the former managing director of Bapex, told Barta24.com that the issue is very risky. And there is hardly a record of getting very good results by deep drilling. In India's Krishna- Godaveri basin, the water depth is 2500 meters and then 4500 meters of soil is excavated. In all, they have excavated about 7,000 meters. Tide Send 5 has received gas and can extract a maximum of 7 million. When Russian company Gazprom went to 6,000 meters in Azerbaijan, hyper pressure drilling did not yield the expected results.
Only 43 exploratory wells have been drilled in Bangladesh since independence. 160 bore wells have been drilled in the neighboring state of Tripura. They have drilled 160 wells and discovered only 11 gas fields, of which 7 are producing. 29 gas fields have been discovered by drilling 98 wells in 113 years (first well drilling in 1910) in Bangladesh border. Apart from this there are some fields like Mubarakpur and Kashba. In which gas darkness is found but not declared as not commercially extractable. For good reason, energy experts believe that oil and gas exploration activities in Bangladesh are still in the initial stage. Especially the deep sea and the western part of the country remain unaccounted for. Myanmar is extracting gas from our border in the sea, while India has discovered oil in Ashoknagar on the western side. Due to this, those who thought that there is no possibility of getting gas in the western part of the country (Rangpur, Rajshahi and Khulna region) have now become slightly active.
The Finance Minister seeks experts’ advice to increase expatriate income
Staff Correspondent, Barta24.com
Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal has sought innovative advice from experts to increase expatriate income.
He asked for this advice while addressing the chief guest at the PFM Summit-2023 at Sonargaon Hotel on Monday (September 25).
Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said that specific reasons should be found as to why remittances are not increasing. A solution must be found. That is why we seek innovative advice from those who are economists, who are experts in this sector. If you propose or suggest reforms to fix the remittance flow, we will accept it.
He said, currently many people are going out of the country. But remittances are not increasing in that proportion. So the government is looking for structural reforms to increase expatriate income. That is why I call upon the concerned to come forward with innovative suggestions. If the expatriate income is increased, all the ongoing problems of the economy can be solved.
The finance minister also said that now the youth are settling abroad with scholarships. Workers are also going abroad legally. But remittances are not coming to the country in that proportion. If remittances come in the same way as before, then economic problems will be solved.
The workshop was chaired by the Secretary of the Ministry of Finance Khairuzzaman Majumdar. World Bank's Country Director for Bangladesh and Bhutan Abdullaye Sek and South Asia Practice Manager of World Bank's Governance Global Practice Hishas Weli were special guests.
Earlier, a panel discussion on restructuring of public financial management took place around 11 am. The negotiators were five former finance secretaries. They are - Md. Zakir Ahmed Khan, Dr. Mohammad Tarek, Md. Fazle Kabir, Mohammad Muslim Chowdhury, Abdur Rauf Talukder.
Serajul Islam Siraj, Special Correspondent, Barta24.com Dhaka
High voltage batteries are coming as an alternative to standby generators to ensure uninterrupted power. This method is being used in many countries; Bangladesh is also going to implement it on a small scale in pilot form by the electricity department.
Each battery has more capacity than two-four quick rental power plants. Each unit of lithium ion batteries is available up to more than 100 MW. Which are equal in size to each container. Recharge through high voltage or medium voltage lines. Again, if the power supply is interrupted for any reason, the nano will activate in less than a second. These batteries are capable of providing uninterrupted power supply for 4 to 5 hours. It is considered helpful in industries, markets and apartments. Currently diesel and gas generators are being used in these places. which requires a large amount of fuel. Again the issue of environmental pollution is also involved.
India plans to install 200 GWh by 2040. NTPC and Tata Group have installed 10 MW batteries in their facilities. Bangladesh has huge variations in electricity demand over time and season. The power division is struggling to handle these ups and downs. A specialized peaking power plant has to be kept in the system to meet the increased demand in the evening. Battery technology is expected to be very fruitful. Installation of batteries will eliminate the need for peaking power plants. If such a storage system can be built in the region, it will be able to easily meet the increased demand in the evening and night. At the same time, standard power supply will be possible by reducing the fluctuation of electricity voltage. Many believe that this can be of great help to the overall power sector.
The battery will be fully charged in the early morning when the demand is very low, and will provide power in the evening or at other times when there is load shedding. Power Cell believes that it will also help to keep the system operational when large coal-based power plants including Rooppur nuclear power plant come into production.
Engineer Saleh Ibn Sharif, Assistant Director (Performance Monitoring) of Power Cell, a development and research institute of the Electricity Department, told Barta24.com that this method is being used in many countries including India. India has undertaken a grand scheme, we want to initially implement it in pilot form and verify the results. Plans are under way to test fit a garment. The garment has an approved demand of one and a half megawatts. But the actual demand is 485 kWh. We are preparing to install 2 megawatt hour batteries.
In response to a question, he said, the cost of a battery of one megawatt capacity will be around Taka 3 crore. They have a life time of 10 years. It will be cost effective than using diesel generators. They will recharge off-peak when power demand is low. By recharging at that time, the government will not have to keep the peaking power plant on standby. This will reduce the average production cost of electricity.
He further said that setting up a power plant is time-consuming, but these batteries can be purchased and installed on a turn-key basis to run the power system. Installation is possible within 1 month if there is a power shortage in any region. Our Mymensingh zone and Rangpur are experiencing power shortages many times. Electricity has to be taken from Chattogram or Barishal zone to deal with the shortage, which is increasing system losses. If batteries are installed at substations, there will be reserves. Uninterrupted power will be ensured during peak times. These batteries are becoming modern day by day considering many advantages for the overall system.
The major complication of Bangladesh's power sector is the huge difference in demand over time. During the irrigation season, the demand exceeds 16,000 MW, and in winter, the demand falls below 10,000 MW. Production capacity should be kept ready with reserve margin taking into account the maximum demand. Most of which remain unused. In addition, the overall cost of production is increasing while charging. The government, however, plans to import power from Nepal as well as export it during winter. Hydroelectricity is the main source of electricity in Nepal, production decreases when mountain river water decreases in winter when they have to deal with the increased demand to use room heaters. At that time, power plants sit idle in Bangladesh.
Commercial production begins at Banskhali Coal Power Plant
Special Correspondent, Barta24.com, Dhaka
Banskhali coal-based power plant has started commercial production. Ebadat Hossain Bhuiyan, CFO of SS Power One Limited, confirmed to Barta24.com that the power plant started commercial production at 12:00 PM on September 17.
It has continuously supplied 660 MW of electricity since the start of production. The two units of the power plant have a production capacity of 1320 MW. Commercial production has started from one unit in the first phase. As usual, the second unit will come into production within the next 1 month, said Ebadat Hossain Bhuiyan.
The day will be a milestone from many aspects including the power sector, Banshkhali Power Plant. This is the highest record so far as private single investment and foreign investment in private projects has also been recorded through this. The cost-effective thermal power plant has also touched a record in financing through foreign banks in the private sector. 1.78 billion US dollars in funding has come into the project. On the other hand, S Alam Group has financed from its own sources about Taka 6500 crores.
So far only large-scale coal-based power plants have been built under government ownership in Bangladesh. One is the Payra 1320 MW thermal power plant jointly invested by the Bangladesh-China government. The other is Rampal 1320 MW power plant jointly owned by Bangladesh-India. Although it is the third power plant in the list, it is the first large power plant under private ownership.
Bangladesh awarded the first 3 private sector contracts for coal-fired power plants in June 2012. The contracts executed in the first phase were with Orion Group. On the other hand, S Alam Group signed a contract to set up a coal-based power plant on February 16, 2016. Orion's power plant is far from coming into production, and has yet to begin operations. After 4 years, the nationally renowned S Alam Group has been able to reach the desired goal, leaving behind others. The power plant has brought good news for the entire power sector. Electricity here will be affordable compared to others. This electricity will be cheaper than the (imported) power of coal-based plants of the Indian company Adani Group, or even Pyara, jointly owned by the Bangladesh-China government.
According to Bangladesh Power Development Board sources, electricity will be available at half the price compared to Furnace Well based power plants. And when compared with diesel, the cost is one-third. Currently, coal-based power generation ($125 per tonne) costs Tk. 6.50 per unit, furnace oil (Tk. 85 per liter) costs Tk. 19 and diesel power generation costs about Tk. 28 per unit. If compared with furnace oil, the unit will save about Tk.12. If Banskhali is in full production, it will supply about 300 million units of electricity per day. It will be about 95 crore units per month. Even if savings are taken at the rate of Tk. 12 per unit, the government will save more than Tkk. 1140 crore.
The 275 meter tall colored chimney of the power plant is visible from afar. A specialized jetty has been constructed at sea shore at 2 thousand mt per hour. Tons of coal can be redeemed. Two conveyor belts attached to the coal yard have a capacity of 4,000 MT. Covered conveyor belts have been installed keeping in mind the environment. A high net enclosure is provided around the coal yard. Two advanced FGDs (Flue Gas Desulphurization) have been constructed long ago. 2 silos have been constructed for Ash storage each having a capacity of 2,600 Metric ton And there is a huge Ash pond spread across 80 acres. Heavy wave walls are built to protect against natural disasters like cyclones or floods.
The large power plant has been set up in the Gandamara area of Banskhali (Chattogram) near the Bay of Bengal. It is owned by famous local company S Alam Group, Chinese company Sepco 3 and HTG. Local company S Alam has a 70 percent stake, while Chinese companies SEPCO 3 and HTG hold 30 percent.
The power plant has started playing a huge role in the economy of Bangladesh even before its commissioning. Already about Tk. 1300 crores of tax, VAT and other fees have been deposited in the government exchequer from the project. 650 million dollars worth of goods and services were purchased from within the country. Not only that,7 thousand people have been employed here for 4 consecutive years, including the time when the employment crisis was being created during the great crisis like Corona. The center will employ 1200 people.
Bir Muktijodha Maqbool E-Elahi Chowdhury, a former member of BERC, Bangladesh's primary energy expert, told Barta24.com that this is undoubtedly a milestone for Bangladesh's economy. Good effort on personal initiative. When a big investment succeeds, many investors get excited. That is, one investment leads to another investment. From that point of view, it is positive for the economy of Bangladesh. Mohammad Hossain, director general of Power Cell, a development research institute of the power department, told Barta24.com that till now coal is considered cost-effective after gas. That is why such power plants are very positive for our economy. When the plant comes into production, the average production cost of electricity will come down. A few days ago when oil prices hiked, when there was some power shortage, SS Power gave good support when it came to the test run.