All of the country's five gas distribution companies have demanded gas price hike at consumer level at the latest Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) public hearing. Their proposal is to increase price by approximately 50 percent from Tk 8.63 to Tk 12.19 per cubic metre of gas because they claim that their production cost stands at Tk 12.19 after blending imported liquefied natural gas (LNG) with natural gas. The proposed price hike is spread across bulk and retail consumers—from industries to CNG stations to households.
Energy experts have been warning us for a few years now that the import of LNG would have an adverse impact on pricing. The price hikes range from 33 percent for a single-burner stove up to 50 percent increase for a double-burner stove at household level. Why has the Bangladesh Petroleum Exploration Company (BAPEX) not seriously explored new gas fields despite being given funds by the government to do so? LNG remains an expensive imported solution to our energy crisis and the continued inertia at policy level to conduct extensive onshore and offshore exploration for new gas remains a mystery. Instead of passing on the extra cost of an imported fuel to consumers, which according to critics is more than a hundred times expensive (per cubic metre) than locally produced gas by BAPEX, steps need to be taken to find new gas reserves. A country like ours cannot depend on such an expensive imported fuel to complement our depleting gas reserves.