Explorers have struck gas about 32km north of the Shahbazpur Gas Field in Bhola, a southern coastal district.
A total of 600 billion cubic feet of gas has been found in Bheduria union, Cabinet Secretary Mohammad Shafiul Alam disclosed to reporters at the Secretariat yesterday.
The discovery of the country's 27th gas field came at a time when the government is concentrating on the import of liquefied natural gas (LNG) amid dwindling reserves.
The new reserve would increase Bhola's gas reserve to 1.5 trillion cubic feet, the cabinet secretary said without specifying any details.
Certain geological tests must be done first to be able to say for sure if it is a new gas field and to ascertain the reserve volume.
When asked whether all required tests had been carried out to reach the conclusion about the discovery, the cabinet secretary replied in the affirmative.
Prof Syed Humayun Akhter of Dhaka University's geology department, however, told The Daily Star, “I don't know whether required tests have already been done. But I know from my connections that it's almost certainly a new gas field.”
Quizzically though, state-run explorer Bapex (Bangladesh Petroleum Exploration and Production Company Ltd) and its parent organisation Petrobangla remained tight-lipped on details.
Sources in the Bapex, however, confided that it was likely to be a new gas field but had been disclosed prematurely.
Initial tests suggest that the gas field looked to be the most promising in Bangladesh. The gas pressure was found to be at 5,600 PSI (pound per square inch) which is the highest among all gas fields in the country, they said.
But the disclosure should have been made after doing the DST (drilling steam test, a method to determine extractable reserve) and perforation test (a method to determine the flow pressure of the gas field), they added.
“It will take a week or so for Bapex to conduct those tests and reconfirm the announcement,” a top Bapex official said opting not to be named.
Traditionally, the news of any discovery would come from either explorer Bapex or its parent organisation Petrobangla. This is the second time such news has been disclosed to the nation after a cabinet meeting at the secretariat.
Over two months ago, the government prematurely disclosed that a new gas field was discovered in Bhola without having certain geological tests done. Later, geological tests confirmed that the “new gas field” was in fact an extension of the existing Shahbazpur Gas Field structure, which has 700 billion cubic feet of reserves.
According to Bapex, the country has about 11-12 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves with an annual consumption of about one trillion cubic feet.
The gas field in Bhola has the potential to become the largest reserve of natural gas in the country, surpassing Titas in Brahmanbaria. But the rest of the country might not be able to use the new-found gas because of Bhola's geographical isolation.
Like now, the gas would be used in power generation and in industries of the region. Pipelines through rivers to the national gas grid would be way too expensive.
Bhola has two power plants with the capacity to generate 225 megawatts and 30.5MW. They use gas from Shahbazpur.
The construction of another 225MW plant is underway.
The government plans to set up a special economic zone in the district.