The government has taken a fresh move to expedite onshore hydrocarbon exploration to meet the growing demand for gas across the country.
Initially, it has planned to re-activate all the existing inoperative onshore gas blocks now under control of international oil companies (IOCs) and state-owned Bangladesh Petroleum Exploration and Production Company Ltd (BAPEX), Energy and Mineral Resources Division (EMRD) sources told the FE.
The EMRD Adviser Mahmudur Rahman has already asked the IOCs and BAPEX for a meeting scheduled on January 17 next to discuss the issue.
"The oil and gas companies under Production Sharing Contracts (PSC) must have to conduct exploration activities as per the terms of references of the agreement with the government," he told the reporters.
MPEMR sources said a number of IOCs and BAPEX have kept a number of onshore gas-fields idle for several years.
Sources said the EMRD under the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources (MPEMR) is now keen to expedite onshore exploration after it has shelved a plan to carry out seismic survey for hydrocarbon exploration in the Bay of Bengal.
Currently, the government has eight Production Sharing Contracts (PSCs) with the IOCs for 10 blocks across the country.
The government signed the PSCs in the first and second round biddings in 1993 and 1997 after dividing the country into 23 blocks.
Among the IOCs, the Unocal Bangladesh Ltd alone was awarded block 12, 13 and 14 covering Sunamganj, Hobiganj, Sylhet and Moulavibazar areas.
The Unocal and the state-owned BAPEX were awarded block 7 that covers gas and oil exploration in Barisal, Patuakhali, Perojpur, Jhalkathi, Barguna and the adjacent areas of the Bay of Bengal.
Cairn Energy Exploration Bangladesh Ltd together with the BAPEX was awarded block 5 and 10.
These blocks cover Khulna, Satkhira, Bagerhat and the adjacent portion of the Bay of Bengal, Laxmipur, Noakhali, Bhola, Shahbajpur and the adjacent areas of the Bay of the Bengal.
Cairn Energy Sangu Field Ltd and Halliburton Energy Inc were jointly awarded block 16 for the areas of Feni, greater Chittagong, Kutubdia and the adjacent areas of Bay of Bengal.
Tullow Bangladesh Ltd and Auckland Oil Company were awarded jointly the Blocks 17 and 18 covering the areas of Cox's Bazar and the adjacent area of the Bay of Bengal.
Tullow Bangladesh Ltd, Niko Resources and BAPEX were jointly awarded Block 9, which covers the areas of Gazipur, Narsingdi, Comilla and Chandpur.
MPEMR sources said the bocks that remain inoperative include blocks 5, 7, 17 and 18.
They said the EMRD might consider termination of PSCs on these blocks if the companies concerned do not initiate exploration activities shortly.
Meanwhile, 20 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd) of gas has been added to the national grid Thursday raising the total gas production capacity to 1570 mmcfd.
The EMRD adviser Mahmudur Rahman inaugurated Thursday the new gas production from well no 5 of Moulavibazar gas field being operated by Unocal.
Petrobangla chairman Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan, BGFCL managing director Muktadir Ali, Petrobangla Director (PSC) Raihanul Abedin and a number of senior Petrobangla and Unocal officials were present on the occasion.
Talking on future gas production EMRD Adviser told the reporters that some 80 mmcfd more gas would be added to the national grid in phases by June 2006.
Of the planned 80-mmcfd new gas production 60 mmcfd will be added to the national gas grid from Bangura of Comilla and 20 mmcfd from Titas's well no 15.
The newly discovered Bangura gas field is being developed by Irish oil company Tullow, while Titas is being developed by Bangladesh Gas Fields Company Ltd.
Currently, the country is facing around 100 mmcfd of gas shortage against the total demand of more than 1,650mmcfd.