The energy regulator may soon increase gas prices for industries, power stations, filling stations, fertiliser factories and tea estates as the government is set to pass the price of imported liquefied natural gas on to users.
Prime Minister's Energy Adviser Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury yesterday said the supply of the imported LNG has started. So, the gas price will be hiked very soon.
But the government has asked the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) to keep the price at a tolerable level.
In June, the BERC held hearings about raising gas prices for consumers except for households. Prices may be raised for industries, power stations, filling stations, fertiliser factories, and tea estates.
Last time, the BERC raised the gas price in March last year. It also raised the price in June the same year, but the decision was later withdrawn following a High Court order. Under the law, the BERC cannot enhance gas price twice in a single fiscal year.
The increase in price of gas came to the fore as LNG is costing the country about Tk 30 per cubic metre.
The average retail price of gas supplied by Petrobangla from domestic sources is Tk 7.39 per cubic metre. But when LNG is mixed with local gas, the price might be set at about Tk 13.
About four months behind the deadline, imported LNG supply started in Chittagong on August 18 as the connection to the national gridline could not be completed before that.
Initially, 100 million cubic feet (mmcfd) of gas per day was supplied to the Chittagong region but later it was increased to 300 mmcfd, said the energy adviser.
He was speaking at a seminar at the Jatiya Press Club. The Forum for Energy Reporters Bangladesh (FERB) and the Solar Module Manufacturers Association of Bangladesh (SMMAB) jointly organised the programme.
A project to supply the LNG from the Floating Storage and Regasification Unit moored in Moheshkhali to Fauzderhat is under construction.
A 91-km pipeline from Moheshkhali to Anwara has already been established.
But the work for the 30km line from Anwara to Fauzderhat is yet to be completed. A part of the pipeline will go under the river Karnaphuli and this has created complexities.
The energy adviser said because of the technical fault, the pipeline had to be replaced a number of times.
When the problem is sorted out, about 500mmcfd gas could be added to the national grid network.
Bangladesh is looking outside to alleviate its energy shortage largely caused by depleting domestic reserves and rising demand. Gas supply stands at about 2,700mmcfd against the demand for 3,300mmcfd.