Waiting for Godot
The city of Chittagong is undergoing a severe energy crunch. As per a report in this paper published yesterday, more than 400 factories in the city have seen their production hampered due to intermittent gas supply and that means a lot of exporters have failed to ship their goods within stipulated timeframes. The situation in the port city has been like this for some time now. Against a daily demand of 400 mmcft (million cubic feet), the city receives an average of around 240 mmcft, which leaves policymakers with a juggling act, i.e. balancing between what gas to give to industry and how much to other sectors including households.
The situation at household level is not rosy. Residents of affected areas have to put up with gas not being in the pipe during normal cooking hours. The same goes for CNG-driven vehicles that must wait for inordinately long hours to top up, and that too not very forthcoming since gas pressure is not up to the desired level. We are told that a certain gas well is supposed to go operational in Samutang gas field next month and that should improve the situation, but then, what guarantee is there that the gas produced there will be allotted to the port city alone?
The situation in Chittagong merely reflects what we have been highlighting for some years now. With no significant new gas reserves being discovered over the last so many years the deficit has now finally caught up with us. We have been depleting our known reserves without making new discoveries. Plans for importing liquid fuel have been there on paper for years and now that the crunch has hit the second most important commercial hub of the country, one can only wonder when that will materialise.