Thursday, December 22, 2011

Bangladesh, Russia's Gazprom to drill onshore gas wells

SALEEM SAMAD

ENERGY STARVED Bangladesh has jointly decided on a plan with Gazprom to prepare gas sector strategic master plan for exploration, installation of gas compressors and expanding gas distribution network.

Bangladesh on Wednesday approved a plan by Gazprom, the Russain based world biggest producer and exporter of natural gas to drill 10 onshore wells in the country, state energy exploration agency Petrobangla’s Chairman Hussain Monsur said.

Gazprom will be the first foreign company to partner with Petrobangla in exploration without a production-sharing contract, the official added.

Gazprom in late October offered to drill 10 onshore gas wells in Bangladesh on a turnkey basis at a total cost of $193.55 million, with drilling to be completed within 18 months of approval being granted, Vice-President of Gazprom Ivan Guleb told journalists.

The government recently passed a new law to ensure the quick implementation of power and energy projects that bypasses the tender process. It gives it the authority to bypass any laws that impede the execution of power projects and prevents decisions and deals inked under the new law from being challenged in court.

The shortfall has forced Petrobangla to suspended new gas connections to industries since July 2009, squeezing industrial growth. Gas rationing is widespread and CNG filling stations are closed four hours a day.

On the other hand, leaked United States diplomatic cables said the Kremlin's ambition of turning Gazprom, the world's biggest gas company, into a global energy titan is undermined by Soviet-style thinking, poor management and corruption.

The diplomatic cables from U.S. Ambassador to Moscow John Beyrle paint Russia's biggest company as a confused and corrupt like its predecessor, the Soviet Ministry of Gas.

Saleem Samad, an Ashoka Fellow is an award winning investigative journalist based in Bangladesh. He specializes on Islamic terrorism, forced migration, good governance and elective democracy. He has recently returned from exile from Canada after return of democracy. He could be reached at saleemsamad@hotmail.com