Tk 2,000cr meant for gas exploration but Petrobangla spent on import
Petrobangla spent Tk 2,000 crore from the Gas Development Fund (GDF), meant for gas exploration, to import LNG without the permission of Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission.
The BERC said Petrobangla didn't take its permission to spend the money from the GDF, mobilised mainly for gas exploration.
Asked about it, BERC Chairman Md Abdul Jalil at a virtual press conference yesterday said they will look into the matter and take necessary steps.
" ... We will see whether Petrobangla followed the regulations in spending the money from the GDF," he added.
The BERC organised the event to announce Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) prices for this month. The price of each 12-kg cylinder of LPG, sold by private companies, has been slashed by Tk 35 to Tk 1,219.
According to media reports, Petrobangla got the Finance Division's approval on July 6 to spend Tk 2,000 crore as a "temporary loan from the GDF" to import liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).
But energy experts said the GDF was initiated only for gas exploration, not for gas import. And as per the GDF regulations, Petrobangla was legally bound to take the BERC's permission to spend from the fund.
Talking to The Daily Star yesterday, energy expert Prof M Shamsul Alam said, "This is illegal."
Petrobangla had earlier taken such loans from energy security funds but never paid back, he said.
According to the GDF regulations, money from the fund can only be spent on gas exploration, production, development and distribution of gas.
Contacted, a Petrobangla official said that though the fund was not meant for gas import, they needed it due to an emergency.
"We applied to the GDF management committee, led by the energy secretary, which approved it upon the Finance Division's permission," said the official seeking anonymity.
This correspondent could not reach any official of the Finance Division for comment on the issue yesterday.
Earlier on June 27, the BERC asked Petrobangla to return to the GDF Tk 3,000 crore that the latter deposited with the state exchequer last year, showing it as surplus money.
The BERC also told Petrobangla to pay back Tk 9,227 crore that the national oil company took from the Energy Security Fund to import LNG between July 2018 and June 2021.
Asked about it, the BERC chairman passed the question to BERC Deputy Director (Tariff) Kamruzzaman who said there was no update as of now.
"We will ask them [Petrobangla] about it soon," he said.
The GDF was created through a BERC order in July 2009, and a portion of the tariff paid by the consumers has been kept for the fund since 2019.
LPG PRICES SLASHED
The BERC has cut the prices of LPG, sold by private companies, by Tk 2.9 per kg.
According to the new rate, the price of a 12-kg cylinder of LPG, including VAT, is now Tk 1,219, down from Tk 1,254.
The price of LPG sold by state-owned LP Gas Limited remains unchanged. The price of a 12.5kg cylinder of LPG is still Tk 591.
Besides, the prices of "auto-gas" used as fuel for vehicles has also been reduced to Tk 56.85 per litre, down from Tk 58.46.