After a delay of nearly one year, a gas compressor station has begun partial operation from late last month, resulting in an improved gas supply flow countrywide.
A well-placed source in the Gas Transmission Company Ltd (GTCL), which is implementing a project to install two gas compressor stations at a cost of $122 million, said the compressor station at Ashuganj started its operation last month and continued till Eid. Then it resumed operation from yesterday after remaining inoperative during the Eid holidays due to relatively low demand of gas.
“After we launched its operation, gas pressure at the Chittagong end shot up to 600 pressure square inch (PSI) from a mere 250 PSI,” said a GTCL official, explaining the impact of the move. Chittagong had been the worst-affected region in terms of poor gas supplies.
The compressor station is receiving gas at Ashuganj point at various pressures and pumping the pressure up to 1000 PSI while transmitting the gas downstream. This has also helped increase gas supply by 15 to 20 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd) which otherwise remained trapped in the pipeline due to lower pressure.
The Ashuganj point is very important as it is situated at the centre of country's gas supply network.
This station is supposed to have three compressors, including a backup one, but is currently running just one. The other two compressors will be ready for launching in September.
Another compressor station in Elenga will also start operation from the next month.
Fluctuating or low pressure of gas had long been affecting performance of all gas-based production -- from home burners to power plants. This fluctuation had been taking place for a decade due to gas supply shortfall against a much higher demand. This prompted the government to plan the installation of three compressor stations -- one in Muchai, one in Ashuganj and one in Elenga -- with loans from the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
The first of these compressors was installed by US company Chevron in Muchai at a cost of $52 million in 2012. Its addition has improved gas pressure and availability in the upstream Sylhet region.
The government in 2011 awarded contracts to Korean firm Hyundai to set up the remaining compressor stations. Hyundai was supposed to complete the installations in September last year.
“But various reasons like untimely disbursement of funds, delay in customs clearance of imported equipment and then political unrest, hartals and violence delayed the project by many months last year,” said the GTCL source. The government then extended the deadline to May this year.
Hyundai faced another glitch while transporting three compressor units for the Ashuganj station. One of the compressors turned upside down and had to be sent to the Netherlands for repairs before being re-imported last year.
And this year, when Hyundai was ready to test-run all three compressors, one of them went out of order. This unit, meant to be used as the backup, is now being examined to determine the kind of repair it requires.
“In the meantime, we have completed installation of three compressors in the other station in Elenga. This is ready for operation. But as it is located further down, we cannot launch its operation without the Ashuganj unit running in full swing,” said a Hyundai official.
With one compressor working, the Ashuganj unit is now processing 750mmcfd gas, one third of the country's total gas supply. In September, when the second compressor begins operation, it would handle 1500mmcfd, bringing about a significant improvement in overall gas pressure scenario of the country.
For its failure to deliver the stations in time, Hyundai will have to pay liquidated damages to the GTCL which may turn out to be several million US dollars.