Petrobangla comes under JS body fire
The parliamentary standing committee on public undertakings yesterday blasted Bangladesh Oil, Gas, and Mineral Corporation (Petrobangla) for not taking measures to explore oil and gas in the country during the regimes of BNP-Jamaat, and the immediate past caretaker government.
The committee also directed the energy ministry and Petrobangla to take strong steps to realise compensation from US company Unocal for the Magurchhara gas blowout which had caused a huge economic loss to the country and an environmental disaster for the locality.
Analysing Petrobangla's annual audit report for 2007-'08 fiscal year, the committee said Petrobangla lacked financial discipline and proper methods were not followed in maintaining the corporation's account.
Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir, chairman of the committee, told reporters about the criticisms and decisions after a meeting of the committee held in the parliament building.
The meeting also directed the energy and mineral resources ministry, and Petrobangla to protect the country's interest in line with international laws and customs regarding exploration of gas and oil in offshore areas.
Meeting sources said the country suffered a loss of about Tk 3,900 crore due to the gas blowout at Magurchara gas field on June 14, 1997. But Unocal paid only Tk 38 crore in compensation.
The erstwhile Awami League government formed an investigation committee that said the damage to the reserve forest in the area due to the explosion was worth Tk 9,858 crore, while 29 tea gardens in the area suffered losses of Tk 46.7 crore.
The committee chief also said they unearthed some information about irregularities in Petrobangla.
"We have noticed with regret that Petrobangla did not take any fruitful step regarding exploration of gas fields during the last BNP regime, and as a result, Bangladesh is faced with a possible gas crisis," said Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir, also a ruling Awami League lawmaker.
He also said the parliamentary committee thinks ill performing Bangladesh Petroleum Exploration Company Limited (Bapex) should be revamped and given more budgetary allocation for exploration of natural gas.