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Interview
‘LPG cylinders of LAUGFS Gas are second to none in ensuring quality and safety’
The usage of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cylinder for cooking has been gaining increasing popularity in Bangladesh. Some local as well as multi-national companies are supplying LPG cylinders in the country. One of such companies is Sri Lanka based LAUGFS Gas Bangladesh Ltd. Mohammed Saidul Islam, the Chief Executive Officer and Director of this company is involved with this LPG cylinder business for 18 years. He recently sat down with energynewsbd.com Editor Aminur Rahman and talked about how LAUGFS Gas has been conducting its business in Bangladesh. energynewsbd.com: Can you tell us about your company? Saidul Islam: LAUGFS Gas Bangladesh Ltd, formerly known as PetredecElpiji Limited, is one of the largest LPG distributors in Bangladesh, importing and distributing over 50,000 tonne of LPG every year. Being the only 100% owned international entity, it has entered the LPG downstream industry of Bangladesh in 2001 with the brand name of Kleenheat Gas. We have grown rapidly over the years, establishing an expansive distribution network across the country with an annual turnover exceeding US $ 38 million. LAUGFS presently operates a world-class LPG import, bottling and distribution facility in Mongla Port. We distribute LPG on cylinders with an extensive nationwide cylinder distribution network under the brand name of LAUGFS, PETREGAZ and KLEENHEAT Gas. We are highly regarded as the best in the class in providing LPG with technical services to industrial customers. LAUGFS is also the pioneer to introduce Autogas in Bangladesh and supplies LPG to automobile service stations all over the country. LAUGFS Gas Bangladesh is a part of LAUGFS Gas PLC, a fast expanding energy conglomerate in the region and a part of the diversified multinational LAUGFS Holdings Ltd. With over 4,000 employees and an annual turnover exceeding US $ 215 million, LAUGFS has a strong presence across 20 industries in the power and energy, retail, industrial services, leisure and the real estate sectors. LAUGFS has recently marked another milestone by being the first LPG operator in Bangladesh bringing in imported LPG directly from the source on its own sea vessel, namely Gas Courage. energynewsbd.com: What are the sizes of LPG cylinders of LAUGFS that are available in the market? Do you have any other products in the market? Saidul Islam: As of now, we are selling 12kg and 45 kg cylinders in regular market. We are also selling autogas and provide bulk LPG storage facilities for industrial customers. However, keeping in line with the customer’s need and demand, we are planning to bring new cylinders with capacities ranging between 12kg and 45kg. energynewsbd.com:What are the unique selling points of your cylinders? Why would people opt to buy your cylinders? Saidul Islam: We maintain international standard throughout the process of selling our cylinders to deliver those to our customer’s doorsteps. So it means, those are being delivered after ensuring utmost safety and reliability. We ensure the highest quality, safety and appropriate weight of each cylinder and because of these, our cylinders have gained popularity among the customers. energynewsbd.com: There is a common complain reading the pricing of LPG among the customers. What is your opinion about that? Saidul Islam: You will always find criticism in the market about the LPG cylinders. This happens because the customers want cylinders in lower prices whereas the businessmen want to maximize the profit.I however believe that the highest priority should be given on both the safety and satisfaction of the customers. In LAUGFS, we fix the price of our cylinders by ensuring both the customers safety and satisfaction. Because of that our cylinders are neither cheap nor expensive. Besides, the pricing of LPG cylinder in the local market is intricately related with the price in the global market. So the prices of the LPG cylinders are being adjusted in line with the prices in the international market. Despite all these, we always try to keep our prices affordable. energynewsbd.com: What are your expected sales of new cylinders and refilled ones in this year? Saidul Islam: We plan to sell 60,000 tonne this year. energynewsbd.com: The LPG cylinders explosions seem quite common these days. What are the underlying reasons behind this you think? Saidul Islam: If the incidents of LPG cylinders explosions are analyzed, we would find that those happen because of the usage of low quality cylinders and lack of knowledge about cylinder’s usage. As I said earlier that we put utmost importance on quality control. So our cylinders go to the market after passing through international standard inspection and certification. It means, there are very few possibilities of explosions in our cylinders. However this is not about our cylinders, we want no cylinders explosions to take place. We also take meticulous steps in ensuring the quality of the parts of cylinders- such as valve. Most of the accidents happen because of the poor quality of either cylinder or valve. If we remain careful about maintaining the highest quality of these two parts and if the government takes fruitful steps in enforcing the foolproof security of those as well; then the number of accidents will be minimized I believe. energynewsbd.com: Some other companies are going to enter into the LPG market. Will their entrances reduce the prices of LPG cylinders and benefit the customers? Saidul Islam: As of now, a good number of LPG cylinder companies have entered into the market and because of their entrances, the prices of LPG cylinder have also come down within an affordable price limit. Now the price of a 12kg LPG cylinder is Tk 950. So for cooking purpose, the customers have started to take LPG as an alternative of natural gas. I believe, if more company enters the market with their products, the customers will be benefited in terms of pricing. I however believe that the government has to create a balance between the demand and supply of the LPG cylinders. Because if the amount of supply surpasses the amount of demand, then the companies which will have to bear the losses. This will harm the customers because if the cylinder companies cannot sustain, the overall sector will get hurt. energynewsbd.com: Do you take any steps in popularizing LPG or autogas as a viable alternative of CNG. How many autogas filling stations do you have now? Saidul Islam: To popularize the usage of autogas, we-the LPG companies are of course trying hard. Unfortunately, despite we hope to get full-fledged support from the government about this, we find that some of the processes of establishing autogas pumps have been made unnecessarily complex.    I believe the government should make the establishment of autogas for the LPG operators very easy. The natural gas of the country is limited so the usage of the autogas instead of LPG should be increased. We now have a total of eight autogas stations. energynewsbd.com: Every company wants to create a goodwill and reputation in the market. Is your company has attained desired success in building those? Saidul Islam: Before our company enters into the market, there were other LPG cylinder companies. I can proudly tell you that, we are second to none in terms of ensuring the quality and safety of the cylinders. It does not matter which type of or which size of our cylinders you buy or from where; I can guarantee you that the cylinder is safe to use. You will also get the appropriate weight in cylinders.  If you use our product once, you will keep using it. energynewsbd.com: Tell me some future plans of your company. Saidul Islam: We plan to build 5,000 tonne capacity storage as per the government approved guideline. We will also abide by the several other directives of the government. We also plan to manufacture cylinders. We will invest the required amount for such establishment.
‘Nano-Grid is a viable solar technology cheaper than Diesel generator’
July 15, 2017 Saturday 8:32 AM By energynewsbd.com
In Bangladesh`s solar power sector, Solar Intercontinental Limited (SOLARIC) has been able to garner an unique reputation because of its innovation in developing appropriate technology and its application. This local renewable energy company, is engaged in manufacturing and marketing of various types of solar energy related products. Didar Islam, Managing Director of SOLARIC recently sat in an exclusive interview with energynewsbd.com Editor Aminur Rahman to talk about how the expansion of solar power in Bangladesh has taken place. He is also a governing body member of Bangladesh Energy and Power Research Council (EPRC), a recently conceived state-owned entity to spearhead local research and development with international standard. energynewsbd.com: Please give a description of your organization’s contribution in the renewable energy sector. Didar Islam: SOLARIC is a private limited company and it is a high-tech company with the primary objective to innovate new technologies, products and packages in the area of renewable energy and marketing in Bangladesh, as the primary market and then export to other countries worldwide as secondary market. Solar Optimizer (commonly known as “micro-converter”) offers the first and only practical solution in the world that substitutes expensive inverter in solar application. On May 25, 2011, SOLARIC started its commercial operations. It develops and manufactures third generation (3G) solar home systems (SHS), backup systems and Nano-grid systems.  The company has developed 3G- solar home system (SHS) based on its patented technology (Solar Optimizer) which is the world’s only 120V DC based SHS. This utility level grid-ready DC solution offers all the benefits of an inverter while maintaining the efficiency of DC system. The result of this intense effort is a family of products, both solar and non-solar applications that include LED based solar home systems for rural (off-grid) areas and LED based lighting systems for semi-urban and urban areas. Presently, SOALRIC has devoted itself in advanced researches on providing solar solutions to industries at Mega-scale. This new solution called “Mega-rooftop” is a viable alternative to which is distributed in nature and yet could generate substantial energy (more than 50% of the factory demand) newly built residential, commercial and industrial complexes to meet the government requirement of taking 3% to 10% electricity from solar source is a major commitment and social responsibility of the company. energynewsbd.com: Your company has shown considerable success in establishing mini solar grid at the remote parts of the country? What are the secret behind the success? Didar Islam: I believe our strong focus in research and development to identify the need and develop appropriate technology in accordance with that has given us a strong footing. Besides, developing strong viable business model is also at the root of SOLARIC growth. SOLARIC believes that the solar solution is now a commercially viable energy alternative which requires innovation in its application and business model to make it available to consumer in a sustainable manner. energynewsbd.com: How many mini grids have been established so far and how many consumers are getting benefitted by these? What are the advantages you provide in establishing mini grid? Didar Islam: Forty Nano-grids have been in operation over the last three years period at different parts of the country in both off-grid and limited grid areas, supplying electricity to more than 1000 homes and shops. Some of these are pure residential and some are commercial (Market place) where consumers use the Nano-grid as a backup power source instead of diesel generator or IPS. The main advantage is uninterrupted power supply to the consumer and 24/7 access which not only provides them power when needed, cheaper than other alternatives such as diesel generator or solar home system and also elongates the business hour. We are in the process of installing 500 more such Nano-grids within next two years. energynewsbd.com: In a bid to popularize the renewable energy, what other products are you providing to your consumers? Didar Islam: We have three different lines of products which are 3G-Solar (solar home system up to 100 Watt), Nano grid (3KW) and industrial Mega Rooftop (500 KW). All of these products are viable solutions which do not require any cash subsidy or incentive from government. energynewsbd.com: The number of installations of solar home system is reduced down in recent times. A main reason behind this is that the government is supplying electricity from national grid to almost 80% areas of the country. What lies in the future of SHS under the circumstances? Didar Islam: I disagree strongly with the notion that high rural electrification rate is the main cause of the sudden decline of the penetration of the solar home system in the rural areas. I think the main reason is that the market is now experiencing a transition from donor-dependent subsidy based program driven by government owned non-bank financial institution- Infrastructure Development Company Limited (IDCOL) to a more sustainable and commercially viable market.  In other words, market has been developed by IDCOL and it is now transitioning into a matured state. In an open market like that, there remains challenge such as quality, service and consumer credit. It also opens a new opportunity for private sectors to get involve and innovate appropriate solutions as per the customer need. What we are seeing is not a decline in the demand rather a lack of credible and viable suppliers who can meet the demand in this new space. Solar home system will soon be popular in the grid areas too which will open new frontier beyond the off-grid market where 25% of the household is already connected with solar home system. energynewsbd.com: There has been no large scale solar power plant established in the country. Many of the companies signed several agreements with the government? What are the reasons behind this? Didar Islam: There are many reasons behind the non-completion of mega-projects but the main ones are-unavailability of suitable ‘non-valuable’ land, Lack of credible foreign investment and Greenfield syndrome (barrier to a new system). To implement a sizable renewable energy project in the country, we need to attract foreign investment.    
Category: Interview
‘Proper thoughts and planning needed before bringing LNG into Bangladesh’
May 1, 2017 Monday 6:12 PM By energynewsbd.com
Dr Ijaz Hossain is involved with teaching profession for the past 40 years. At present he is a Professor with Chemical Engineering Department of Bangladesh University of Engineering Technology (BUET). He is primarily involved with research works on energy and power sector and has been providing advices on this to both government and private sectors. This energy expert has talked extensively about the present and future energy and power situation with energynewsbd.com Editor Aminur Rahman. energynewsbd.com: The primary energy source of Bangladesh is natural gas, half of which is being supplied by US oil company Chevron. Chevron has recently made arrangement to sell its Bangladesh operation to a Chinese consortium. What is your opinion on this issue? Ijaz Hossain: This is certainly not good news because we are extremely dependent on supply from Bibiyana gas field, which is a difficult field to manage. Chevron has managed it very well using the best technology and knowledge available. We have to wait and see how well the new company manages Bibiyana. Moreover, Bibiyana is projected to decline in production. This needs to be managed well, otherwise we may lose this field very early. energynewsbd.com: How serious and responsible do you think the government is in managing the on-shore gas fields and finding new structures? Ijaz Hossain: Despite giving Bangladesh Petroleum Exploration and Production Company Limited (BAPEX) all support, no new large structures have been found. At the same time international Oil Companies (IOCs) have been barred from on-shore exploration. All these point to very poor management and decision making with regard to on-shore reserves and resources. energynewsbd.com: For constructing the Liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal and to increase the usage of LNG, the government has signed two agreements with two different companies. It wants to sign more agreements with other companies. Do you think the government is in a right track in doing this? Ijaz Hossain: No, absolutely not. LNG is a very expensive fuel. Much greater thought and planning is needed before introducing LNG into Bangladesh market. The impact of the high gas price on all sectors should be studied properly and the market for primary fuel should be totally opened up and made completely tax free. energynewsbd.com: To mitigate the electricity demand, the government has opted for electricity import. How effective it will be for ensuring energy security? Ijaz Hossain: Up to a point this is good for the country, but if it exceeds 25% of the total, then two issues arise. First, it will imply overly dependence on another country for a vital commodity. This cannot be good. Instability in that country can disrupt supply. The good relations prevailing now may be hampered for some time in the future. Second, Bangladesh is losing out on value addition opportunity to generate the power in the country. Power generation is a safe and lucrative business involving millions of dollars. If this business can be kept in the country it will provide jobs and other spin-off benefits. energynewsbd.com: The summer season is here and there has been no news of large scale load-shedding. Do you think the government has succeeded in staving off the electricity crisis for the consumers? Ijaz Hossain: Yes, to a great extent this is true. Urban areas may be free from load-shedding but rural areas are continuing to suffer long hours of power outages. Lately we hear excuses such as it is fault of the distribution lines and sub-stations. If this is true then improving the transmission and distribution infrastructure along with generation is the responsibility of the government. A good power system means generation, transmission and distribution. We must also remember that it has not been that hot this year. When the real hot season is upon us, we have to see how well the government tackles the situation. Moreover, there have been complaints of low voltages and unreliable power. Industries are suffering greatly as a result of this. energynewsbd.com: The government has taken an initiative of providing electricity to every household. What will be your advice if the government takes a similar initiative of providing Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) to each and every household? Do you think it’s feasible? If so, how? Ijaz Hossain: I do not understand how this will be done. At the present moment, LPG is controlled by the private sector. Therefore, first, the government will have to develop its own infrastructure and capacity to acquire and distribute LPG. Then, comes the pricing. If subsidy is not given, most households will not be able to afford LPG. If subsidy is given to every single household, I believe it will greatly strain the nation budget.    
Category: Interview
‘BIFFL gives chances to those who want to work with renewables and energy efficiency’
March 5, 2017 Sunday 10:03 AM By energynewsbd.com
S M Formanul Islam has been working with the expansion of renewable energy and energy efficiency over the past few years. He is now working as Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of Bangladesh Infrastructure Finance Fund Limited (BIFFL), the non-banking financial institution of Bangladesh. Earlier, he served as Deputy CEO of Infrastructure Development Company Limited (IDCOL), another non-banking financial institution of the government. Since its inception in 2011, BIFFL has been implementing several projects on renewable energy and energy efficiency. Formanul Islam is telling every details of the advancement of the new company in an exclusive interview with energynewsbd.com Editor Aminur Rahman. energynewsbd.com: Please give a description of your organisation’s activities, particularly contribution in the renewable energy sector in brief. S M Formanul Islam: Bangladesh Infrastructure Finance Fund Limited (BIFFL) is a government-owned non-banking financial institution, operating since 2011. It has a mandate to invest in large infrastructure and sustainable development projects. It has a paid-up capital of Tk 2,200 crore, which makes it the largest financial institution in Bangladesh. Renewable energy and energy efficiency and conservation is one of our preferred sectors. In addition to financing large infrastructure projects, we also finance environment-friendly green projects. We encourage our borrowers to adopt the green approach. BIFFL has a dedicated wing for investment in renewable energy and energy conservation projects. 10% of our total fund is allocated for renewable energy and energy efficiency and conservation sector. We are considering 39 projects in this sector and have already approved 10. The projects are of various types, such as- auto bricks (tunnel kiln technology), green building, recycling plant, solar-based power plant, energy efficient machineries and equipment, etc. It is important to mention that, this sector is still developing and needs a lot of support. So, if we find a potential project, we extend advisory services to the sponsor so that they can overcome the obstacles in order to make the project viable. We are also actively looking for low cost fund for projects in renewable energy sector. We channeled fund from Asian Development Bank (ADB) for auto brick projects, from Sustainable Finance Department of Bangladesh Bank for renewable energy projects and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) fund for energy efficiency and conservation projects. Currently, we are working with the World Bank to avail IPFF-II fund for this sector. energynewsbd.com: What are the main renewable energy and energy efficiency and conservation activities BIFFL were and are working with since its inception? Formanul Islam: We want to lay the groundwork for financial institutions to have an interest in sectors that have huge scope of being environment-friendly. Brick manufacturing is such a sector in our country. We want to encourage entrepreneurs to adopt the eco-friendly technologies in brick manufacturing. Hence, to raise awareness about this issue, BIFFL organised ‘BIFFL Green Brick Convention 2016’ on November 11, 2016.  We are planning to organise such programs in the future too. Additionally, BIFFL officials, including myself, have attended a number of workshops, seminars and training sessions to increase our own capacity. As a part of promoting sustainable finance and green energy in Bangladesh, BIFFL participated in Bangladesh International Green Summit, International Conference on Development in Renewable Energy and Technologies, Bangladesh International Innovation and Development (BIID) Expo 2016 and many more. This year we are contributing as the trade partner of BIID Expo 2017. energynewsbd.com: How many grid-tied solar power plants have BIFFL financed? Formanul Islam: BIFFL is yet to approve any financing facility to grid-tied solar power plants, but we are considering four such projects for financing at this moment. energynewsbd.com: Uninterrupted power supply is considered as one of the biggest challenges for a developing economy like us. On that note, how can solar power contribute to ensure that? Formanul Islam: Needless to say, to continue our development trajectory and attract investment from home and abroad, we need uninterrupted power supply. In 2015, Bangladesh’s power generating capacity was 11,532 MW. However, government of Bangladesh has targeted 24,000 MW capacity by 2021. To achieve this goal, the government is encouraging private sector to come forward and collaborate with the public sector. The government has targeted to add 2,000 MW to the national grid from solar power plants. This target would be unattainable without the participation from private sector. Being a tropical country, Bangladesh enjoys sunlight in abundance for at least nine months of the year. As a result, solar power has tremendous potential in our country. So, we need to build awareness about this potential and the financing facilities that we can extend to them for such projects, and at the same time, the government needs to offer suitable tariff rate so that the power plant projects can be sustainable. energynewsbd.com: What are other sectors that BIFFL is now working with aside from renewable energy and energy efficiency and conservation? Formanul Islam: We have the mandate to finance any project related to infrastructure. It includes a wide range of different sectors including power and energy (generation and transmission of power, biomass or biogas energy in environment-friendly way) and natural resource development (exploration, production, transmission and distribution of oil, gas and other mineral resources, oil refinery and production of LPG). It also includes a gamut of connectivity proejcts (roads and highways and expressways including mass rapid transport system, economic zone, etc., air and railway transportation projects, in-land water ways, dredging etc.) and port development (deep sea port development, sea, river and land port, including inland container terminals, inland container depot and other related services). We also have the capacity to finance projetcs involving the telecommunication system (cellular, broadband, satellite, cable and data transmission, networks and services), hotel and tourism (basic and all necessary infrastructure related to tourism industry), utility and environmental management (water supply and distribution, sewerage and drainage, effluent treatment plants, land reclamation, dredging of rivers, canals, wetlands and other related facilities) and production of chemical and organic fertiliser. Our financing is also available for any social and industrial infrastructure projects (industrial estates and parks, health, hospitals, education, human resource development, research and development and cultural facilities, etc.), poverty alleviation projects (rural utility, technology and connectivity development projects) and urban development projects (urban, municipal and rural projects to support economic development activities). energynewsbd.com: As a financial institution, which ones are BIFFL’s preference sector for loan disbursement? Can you please provide some information about sector-wise loan disbursement? Formanul Islam: We have already disbursed about Tk 1,200 crore and our major sectors were power and energy, connectivity (elevated expressway and economic zone) and renewable energy and energy efficiency and conservation. energynewsbd.com: What sort of traits BIFFL usually considers while disbursing a loan in renewable energy and energy efficiency and conservation sector? Formanul Islam: We worked with ADB and Bangladesh Bank’s Sustainable Finance Unit while assessing renewable energy projects. So, our requirements are in line with the international practices. We are currently channeling fund from JICA for energy efficiency and conservation projects, where Sustainable and Renewable Energy Development Authority (SREDA) is the administrative authority. The primary requirement for any project is to obtain proper licenses and approvals from respective authorities. After that we conduct our own due diligence of the project and only upon satisfactory findings the loan is approved. energynewsbd.com: In your opinion, what are the main obstacles and challenges of renewable energy and energy efficiency and conservation sector now? Formanul Islam: The main obstacles and challenges of renewable energy and energy efficiency and conservation sector now is the lack of awareness among people. If we talk about the brick manufacturing sector, traditional brick fields (fixed chimney kilns) have become illegal as of July 1, 2016. However, many of the manufacturers are still unaware about the alternative eco-friendly technology to FCKs. And those who are aware, are not inclined to adopt the alternative approach due to the high project cost and unavailability of financing facilities, in addition to the cumbersome process of getting approvals and licenses. So, I would recommend that we conduct awareness building activities as well as the industry’s technical capacity. I would also request our government to look into the process of getting licenses without much hassle. For the solar power plants, if the tariff rate is not high enough the projects are not feasible at the current cost of fund and so, the private sector entrepreneurs are losing interest. The amount of land required is an issue for solar-based power plant, but it certainly is not the main concern. To attract the private sector, lucrative tariff rate has to be offered so that the projects remain financially viable.
Category: Interview
“EPRC is formed to motivate young power and energy researcher”
December 13, 2016 Tuesday 10:54 AM By energynewsbd.com
The power and energy sector of the country is buzzing with different activities but the amount of research and development in this sector is still in its nascent state. To put research and development of power and energy sector into a fast lane, the present government has formed Bangladesh Energy and Power Research Council (EPRC). Dr Ahmed Kaikaus has profound interest in research despite being a busy top level bureaucrat. This BCS cadre (Admin) of 84th batch had recently been promoted as an acting secretary of the government. He also holds the portfolio of being the first Chairman of EPRC. Earlier, he joined the Power Division under the power, energy and mineral resources ministry, as its Additional Secretary in May, 2014. Dr Kaikaus recently sat with Aminur Rahman, Editor of energynewsbd.com and talked about the formation of EPRC, its implemented activities and future plan. energynewsbd.com: What was the main vision and mission behind the formation of EPRC? Ahmed Kaikaus: To ensure future energy security and to instigate diversified energy scenario in meeting the increasing demand of power and energy sector, Bangladesh Energy and Power Research Council Act -2015 was enacted. As the provisions present in the act, EPRC was formed in February 2, 2015. The main purposes of the council to coordinate practical and implementable research works in power and energy sector through finding and motivation, identifying the potential areas for energy diversification, conducting research works to implement long term plan, inventing new technologies and to incorporate local and international experts into the research activities of EPRC. energynewsbd.com: There are other research council in different sectors in the country. What are the differences between those and EPRC? What is the history behind its formation? Ahmed Kaikaus: There is no fundamental difference between EPRC and other research councils of the country. EPRC is the only organisation conducting practical research works in Bangladesh. The research works in power and energy sector demand high standard of technological usage. Those require huge capital, technical know-how and sophisticated technologies. EPRC was established to provide with necessary financial and technical support for conducting such research works. On that note, it is a bit different from others. Inspired by our Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, her Energy Advisor Dr Tawfique-E-Elahi Chowdhury first felt the need of practical and implementable research works in power and energy sectors to bring technological sophistication in it. The Bangladesh Energy and Power Research Council Act-2015 was formulated to materialize that. Besides, special emphasis was put onto ensuring energy security to make Bangladesh a middle income country by 2021 as per the vision 2021. In vision-2021 of the government it is written “Reaching middle income status by 2021, while ensuring energy security calls for adoption of a coherent and long-term approach to managing the demand and supply of energy resources.” To achieve that goal, a lot of practical research works in power and energy sector is needed. EPRC is formed to facilitate that research works in the power and energy sector to ensure long term energy security as it was mentioned in vision-2021. energynewsbd.com: How far the EPRC has come so far after enacting the act in 2015? Ahmed Kaikaus: After its formation, EPRC has implemented a number of its plans. The important ones are the following- Financing the research project "Design and Optimization of Parabolic Reflection Type Solar Cooker for Indoor Application" implemented by the Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (BCSIR). Financing and jointly implementing “Opinion Survey on Power Supply to Households” with Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS). Decision of financing and jointly implementing research projects with Infrastructure Development Company Ltd (IDCOL). As per that decision the IDCOL proposed project “Energy Utilization of Solar PV Array of Solar Irrigation and Develop Sustainable Business Model with Remote Monitoring and Payment Gateway for the Off-grid Areas of Bangladesh” is taken. To provide motivation in conducting research works for the development, preservation and expert usage of the power and energy sector, EPRC has conducted two round table discussions with Independent University of Bangladesh (IUB) and Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET). Besides, the workshops on “Mitigating Challenges in Energy and Power through Research” and “Energy Status in Bangladesh Advances in Renewable Energy Field” were organised recently. Also EPRC has recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Engineering Students Association of Bangladesh (ESAB) to facilitate active participation in research works for young researchers and entrepreneurs. State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid already inaugurated the official website and facebook pages of EPRC. Also a project is taken with International Center for Climate Change and Development (ICCCD), IUB to prepare a database consisting of all necessary information about power and energy sector. To provide impetus in conducting practical research works in power and energy sectors, EPRC has decided to research grant to selected research students of BUET and other ESAB members. energynewsbd.com: Can you give us some details about the MoU signed between EPRC and ESAB? Ahmed Kaikaus: To motivate young generation for conducting research works in power and energy sector, an MoU has been signed EPRC and ESAB. The issues that were included in that MoU are- (A) Establishing a connection with the students of BUET who are conducting research works on power and energy sector. (B) Conducting joint seminars, workshops, trainings, summit to solve the energy crisis. (C) Providing “Youth Innovation Small Grant” for innovative project-thesis about power and energy for different students studying in different organisations. (D) EPRC will aid in the ESAB members in using laboratory facilities of the renowned universities of Bangladesh.  energynewsbd.com: What is the number of provisioned manpower as per the EPRC organogram? As per the act, the main office of EPRC will be established in Dhaka. But does it have any plan to establish any branch office in other parts of the country? Ahmed Kaikaus: As per the proposed organogram, there are provisions for 131 people. As per the act, the main office is located in Dhaka. There is no branch in other parts of the country but in future, EPRC might open its branch office in other parts of Bangladesh. energynewsbd.com: What are the plans that this research based organisation has so far taken and how many of them have already been implemented? Ahmed Kaikaus: EPRC has already taken some short and medium term plans. Among those, the important ones are- (A) Some research proposals have already been submitted to EPRC from Energy Institute, University of Hawai and Department of Glass and Ceramic Engineering, BUET. The council will analyze those proposals and take measures to fund as well as implement the proposals jointly. Besides, necessary and technical aid will be provided to implement practical research works in power and energy sector. (B) To bring technological advancements in power and energy sector and to facilitate practical research works in ensuring energy security, plans are taken to organise workshops in different universities which will motivate both teachers and students there. (C) Creating a comprehensive database on power and energy sector to conduct research works in this sector properly. (D) Aiding the students conducting research works under council to have complete access of inter-university laboratory facilities. (E) Financing and jointly implementing potential innovative projects in power and energy sector after analysing the projects. (F) Establishing experimental laboratory and research laboratory for power and energy sector. (G) EPRC will provide necessary financial and technical aid to improve the capacity of the concerned researchers working in power and energy. energynewsbd.com: Usually the research based organisations are media shy. Will EPRC be a bit different from this trait? Ahmed Kaikaus: The main objective of EPRC is to create excellence in power and energy sector. To implement that EPRC is providing necessary aid to the creative researchers in conducting practical and implementable research works.  It is an important platform for motivating the young and accomplished researchers to conduct research works and to coordinate among different research activities. There are legal restrictions about making public announcements of the council activities. The 5(8) section of the act said that to publicize the results of any research works on power and energy sector, EPRC has to conduct seminar, workshops and relevant publications. EPRC is conducting its promotional activities through seminar, workshops, symposium and website so that the researchers could be award of EPRC`s purpose and plans and can get involved with it to fruitfully implement its research activities.      
Category: Interview
‘North-West Power Company plans for leading position in electricity generation’
November 20, 2016 Sunday 1:32 PM By energynewsbd.com
As the newest company in power sector of Bangladesh, North-West Power Generation Company Limited has already reached its success milestones. With a view to reducing the consumption of primary fuel, the company begins to turn simple-cycle power plant into combined-cycle plant in the history of the country. With the same amount of fuel that is used in simple-cycle power plant, the combined-cycle plant reduces the cost of the electricity production as well as it increases power production. He who has reached the company into the destination of success is Engineer AM Khurshedul Alam, managing director of North-West Power Generation Company Limited. Khurshedul has been working in the power sector for more than 40 years. He was known as ‘Project Man’ to all of the staff of Bangladesh Power Development Board while he was working there. In an exclusive interview with Aminur Rahman, editor of energynewsbd.com, AM Khurshedul Alam talked about the success story of his company. energynewsbd.com:  As the newest company in power sector of Bangladesh, what are the developments that North-West Power Generation Company Ltd has done in the last few years? AM Khurshedul Alam: In 2007 to cope-up with the growing load demand as well as to comply with the policy of the government enough generation of electricity needs to be added. With a view to meeting up the growing demand of electricity of the system of the country, North-West Power Generation Company Limited (NWPGCL) has been formed, incorporated and registered in August, 2007 under the framework of the government power sector reforms policy and the provision of the companies act, 1994. The company has primarily started its functioning with Khulna 150 megawatt (MW) peaking power plant project, Sirajganj 150 MW peaking power plant project which have already been completed in due time. The third one (Bheramara 360 MW Combined-Cycle Power Plant Project) undertaken in 2012 is under construction and going to be commissioned very soon. The company intends to be the leading power generating utility in the country in the long run. In order to fulfill the prevailing demand of electricity of the country, NWPGCL had decided to upgrade Sirajganj 150 MW Peaking Power Plant and Khulna 150 MW Peaking Power Plant to 225 MW combined-cycle power plants and it is already done. As a consequence, extra 75 MW has been added to each plant without using any additional fuel except exhaust flue gas from the existing 150 MW power plant. NWPGCL has been implementing Bheramara 360 MW CCPP Project, Sirajganj 225 MW CCPP (2nd Unit-Dual Fuel) Project, Sirajganj 225 MW CCPP (Dual Fuel-3rd Unit) Project. Besides three, Sirajganj 400 MW (±10%) Dual Fuel CCPP Project (4th Unit) has been being implemented under PPP with Sembcorp, Singapore. Moreover, it has been implementing Payra 1,320 MW Coal Based Thermal Power Plant Project in joint venture with CMC, China. energynewsbd.com:  In Bangladesh, NWPGCL is the first company which has transformed a simple cycle power plant into a combined cycle one. How did NWPGCL come up with the idea and how many power plants have been transformed in such a manner as of now? Khurshedul Alam: Originally, Sirajganj and Khulna gas turbine power plants were conceived as peaking power plants, meaning, they will supply power during the peak hours when power consumption is high (in the morning and evening). However, when the power plant was being constructed, the demand for electricity had grown and they were running as base load power plants, meaning, they were running continuously and supplying power to the grid. In case of base load power plants, efficiency is very important to keep the generation costs down. Hence, NWPGCL studied options for improving efficiency and decided that the best method was to convert the simple cycle power plant into combined cycle, which will result in 33% increase in output and 51% increase in efficiency. Till now two power plants - Sirajganj and Khulna 150MW power plants - have been converted into combined cycle power plants. energynewsbd.com:  With dwindling gas reserve of the country, your company has the plan to construct a LNG-based power plant. Where will it be established and what will be its capacity? Khurshedul Alam: Considering the current gas reserve of Bangladesh and the daily requirement in the national gas grid, it is not possible to supply necessary quantity of natural gas to operate an 800 MW power plant as well as the other plants mentioned above. It is, therefore, needed to ensure an alternative source of natural gas and to establish required pipeline and ancillary facilities to make available uninterrupted gas supply to the power plants. Preliminary estimate places the gas requirement for an 800 MW power plant at a rate of 125-130 mmcfd. Combined with the gas requirement of other power plants, the gas requirement may increase to above 250 mmcfd by the year 2021. The government of Bangladesh has set a target for raising the capacity of nearly 15,000 MW power generations in the country to about 24,000 MW by the year 2021 and to about 40,000 MW by the year 2030 in order to meet the increasing national demand of electricity. According to the above target set in Bangladesh Power System Master Plan- 2010, an 800 MW LNG-based combined cycle power plant will be constructed at Khulna by North-West Power Generation Company Ltd. The proposed Khulna 800 MW LNG-based power plant will be operated as a base load plant with a plant factor ranging between 70%-80% depending on the grid demand. The power plant will be comprised of two units of 400 MW each and is scheduled to be commissioned by the end of 2019. The power plant will be located at Khalishpur, Khulna on the bank of the Bhairab River. The existing gas transmission line of 1000 psig operating pressure is nearly 19 km away from the proposed plant location. An inter-connecting line will be built up to the power station with an operating pressure of 300 psig including a regulating and metering station to be installed at the power plant premises for delivering gas at required pressure and quantity. energynewsbd.com:  The government has put priority on coal-based power plant, what is the plan of NWPGCL in this regard and what steps have you taken to implement the plan? Khurshedul Alam: Future energy mix for power generation in Bangladesh leads the path towards coal. Bangladesh has no other choice but to develop coal-based power plants to meet the ever increasing demand for electricity. Sustainable power generation (affordable and available for long-term) requires steady, reliable supply of primary energy. There is no additional gas in the country, and oil is too expensive with volatile price fluctuation. This leaves us with coal-based power generation. More than 50% of the total generation of electricity will come from coal in the near future. The present government’s plan is to develop 20,000 MW coal-based power plants by 2030 which is a pragmatic decision in terms of fuel choice. As per the Bangladesh Power System Master Plan 2010, the government has set a target for NWPGCL to install 2,640 MW coal-based power plants by 2030. In commensurate with the government target, NWPGCL has a plan to implement two 1,320 MW ultra-supercritical mega projects at Dhankhali, Patuakhali in two phases. These two plants will be operated by imported quality coal. One of these already has been put in the construction track which will be commissioned in 2019. As a part of this plan, NWPGCL has taken some effective steps. It is almost a newly created power generation company, which is alone still not sound to install such a coal-based mega project. So, the solution was to establish a strategic alliance of joint venture. For this purpose, NWPGCL signed the joint venture agreement (JVA) with CMC on June 09, 2014 at the Great Hall of the People, Beijing, China in presence of the Hon’ble Prime Minister of the Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina and her counterpart the Hon’ble Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of China Li Keqiang in order to implement Payra 1,320 MW thermal power plant project by using eco-friendly ultra-supercritical technology on turn-key basis and by establishing a joint venture company (JVC). In this perspective, in order to meet the ever increasing demand of electricity, Bangladesh-China Power Company (Pvt) Limited (BCPCL), a Joint Venture Company of NWPGCL and CMC, was formed and registered with the Registrar of Joint Stock Companies and Firms (RJSC), Dhaka, Bangladesh on October 01, 2014 under the provision of the Companies Act, 1994. Just after the formation of the company, BCPCL, development project proposal of land acquisition, land development and protection for Payra 1,320 MW coal-based thermal power plant project was prepared and then approved by ECNEC on October 21, 2014. International tender for the EPC work of the said project was invited simultaneously. The company took only four months to complete the total bidding process, including tender invitation, pre-bid meeting, tender evaluation, board approval, issuance of NOA and its acceptance. At last on March 29, 2016 the company signed EPC contract with the consortium of NEPC and CECC, China for execution of the project. The well-developed land was handed over to the EPC Contractor on March 30, 2016. All these tough and impossible tasks were accomplished following the critical path method (CPM). For cutting down project implementation time, the company has provided a special clause in the EPC contract that EPC contractor will have to invest 15% of the EPC cost (Foreign Currency Portion) from its own resources, which will be reimbursed after financial closing. The project company has arranged the project loan. The Government of Bangladesh through Ministry of Finance has already given the consent in principle to issue sovereign guarantee for 50% (NWPGCL Portion) of the total debt. After negotiation over the Term Sheet submitted by the Export-Import Bank of China (CEXIM), the Standing Committee on Non-concessional Loan (SCNCL), Bangladesh approved it on September 15, 2016. The Framework Financial Agreement of US$ 1.984 Billion for Payra 1,320 MW Thermal Power Plant Project between the CEXIM and BCPCL was signed on October 14, 2016 in presence of the President of the People’s Republic of China and the Prime Minister of the Government of Bangladesh at the Prime Minister’s Office, Bangladesh. The EPC work of Payra 1,320 MW coal-based thermal power plant project (1st phase) runs in full swing. It is expected that the 1st Unit and 2nd Unit of the plant will come into operation in April, 2019 and October, 2019 respectively. energynewsbd.com:  For constructing a coal-based power plant, land scarcity and resettlement are big issues. How does NWPGCL plan to tackle those problems? Khurshedul Alam: Bangladesh is a densely populated small country. Because of her land scarcity, we were compelled to acquire minimum land, only 982.77 acres for 2,640 MW coal-based power plants (1,320 MW-first phase and 1,320 MW-2nd phase). The project will create a direct short-term employment opportunity for the local community during the implementation stage. There will be an opportunity for women to work as construction workers if the local custom permits them. The tree plantation component of the project will be implemented by engaging local women who will be willing to work at the site. Some indirect employment opportunities will also be created due to augmentation of agriculture and trade and commerce resulting from local level infrastructural development. It is expected that the income level of the local community with multi-purpose employment will move up for the sake of implementation of the project. With the project implementation, various economic and non-economic institutions will crop up which include: industries, commercial organisations, health and educational institutions and other social development organisations. We have a comprehensive plan for resettlement for the affected people due to acquisition of land. Using the social and technical judgments, we have prepared the resettlement action plan (RAP) for the affected people, covering the basic facilities. Major considerations are as follows: (a) The household who lost less than 20 decimals of homestead land may be provided 6 decimals of homestead plot and the household who lost more than 20 decimals may be provided 8 decimals of plot in the resettlement area;  (b) Water supply through 10 hand tube wells or one deep tube well with overhead tank; (c) Shops to be provided for the business households who lost shops; (d) Two ponds [one in the front side and another one in back side for common water use for different purposes]; (e) Office-cum-community centre; (f) Community clinic; (g) Electricity connectivity; (h) Playground for children; (i) Mosque with all facilities; (j) One Eidgah with facilities; (k) Upgrading of the nearby school, if necessary, due to increased presence of students from the resettled households; (l) Internal paved roads; m) Drains, fencing, garden, etc. will be developed. energynewsbd.com:  What impacts these coal-based power plant will have on the economy of the country? Khurshedul Alam: Coal-fired power plants, due to their large capacity and low cost per kWh, are typically used as base load power plants by the grid operators. They also can be run without interruption for extended periods of time. Thus, they are typically used by the grid operators to supply uninterrupted power to the major consumers such as industrial and bulk consumers. This helps in sustained production and output from the industries and provides in turn the constant employment and improves country`s economy. energynewsbd.com:  Your company has established a hub of power generation in Sirajganj. How was it possible? Khurshedul Alam: In the year 2012, NWPGCL has established a 150 MW gas turbine peaking power plant at Soydabad, Sirajganj. It was a simple cycle power plant. In the following year, NWPGCL upgraded this power plant into a 225 MW combined cycle power plant. Till now this is the only operational power plant unit in the Sirajganj Power Generation Hub. This power plant is termed as Sirajganj 225 MW CCPP (Unit-1). In the meantime, NWPGCL has incepted several other power plant construction projects beside this power plant. Those are Sirajganj 225 MW CCPP (Dual Fuel-2nd Unit) Project, Sirajganj 225 MW CCPP (3rd Unit – Dual Fuel) Project and Sirajganj 400 MW (±10%) Combined Cycle (4th Unit – Dual Fuel) IPP Project. NWPGCL has taken measures to implement Sirajganj 7.6 MWp Grid Connected PV Solar Power Plant Project in the vicinity of Sirajganj Power Generation Hub. This was possible only for the government’s positive and effective approach to the power sector; close monitoring of the Power Division over the company’s projects; and the collective and continuous effort of the company’s concerned manpower. energynewsbd.com: Though finding appropriate financing is one of the major challenges of constructing a power plant, your company has been able to tackle that successfully. How did you make that possible? Khurshedul Alam: Well, you know constructing any power plant requires huge investment. Appropriate financing is crucial to construct and operate a power plant. As the government grant is allocated to different high-triggered sectors along with power sector and the abundance of grant recipient from the soft loan donor group makes it competitive and challenging to depend on a single source of financing. So rather than confining in traditional ways of financing, we focus on diversified financing alternatives. We have GOB financing, development partner financing (ADB/JICA), ECA financing, Public Private Partnership (PPP) and self-financing. Summing up all together, the proper application of money, the dedication of self-motivated employees, close and relentless supervision of the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources and managerial and operational excellences made things possible in the best manner. energynewsbd.com:  Why do the foreign loan disbursing organisations put confidence on your projects? Khurshedul Alam: Confidence does not come in a day. It requires extensive efficiency to perform a task and maintain the efficiency over a period of time. Goodwill is the reflection of that. We do have a very good reputation of timely completion of our projects without further extending the tenure. We are awarded “The best performing project team” by ADB for several times. Our Debt Service Liabilities (DSL) payment history puts additional confidence to our lenders. We thrive to complete the project in time smoothly, operate the plant successfully and repay the loan as per Short-Term Loan Agreement (SLA). This overall process gives us the competitive advantage and leads us in generating values and confidence in the foreign loan disbursing organizations. energynewsbd.com:  In future, which are the places you have decided to construct new power plants? Khurshedul Alam: To meet the future challenges of demand of electricity of Bangladesh, NWPGCL has decided to implement some new power plants in different suitable locations of the country. As gas and oil are limited natural resources and exhausting rapidly, at present we are going to focus on renewable energy, coal and LNG-based power plant projects. NWPGCL intends to implement 800 MW LNG-based Combined Cycle Power Plant Project in Khulna by December 2019. Besides these, it has a schematic comprehensive future development plan for implementing different power plant projects of different sizes, capacities and technologies. In the meantime, the company has constituted the Renewable Energy Cell to implement wind and solar power plant projects. There is a strong potential for solar energy within the country. NWPGCL intends to implement Sirajganj 7.6 MWp Grid Connected PV Solar Power Plant Project and now-a-days its development project proposal (DPP) is under the process of approval in the Planning Commission of the government. Under the Renewable Energy Cell of the company, 100 MW grid connected PV solar power plant will be implemented in Faridpur by June 2018. Moreover, Payra 100 MW solar power plant will be constructed on the ash pond of the Payra 1320 MW Thermal Power Plant Project in Patuakhali by June 2021. NWPGCL believes in wind as a viable and competitive source of clean energy to help meet energy challenges and aims at becoming a recognised player in this field of Bangladesh. It intends to implement Payra 50 MW Wind Power Plant Project in Patuakhali by June 2019 and its feasibility study is going on by FEDI, China. It will construct Payra 1,320 (2x660) MW Thermal Power Plant Project (2nd phase) in JV with CMC, China. Moreover, NWPGCL intends to establish another 1,000 MW ultra-supercritical power plant by using indigenous coal.    
Category: Interview
‘Electricity from nuclear plant in Bangladesh from October 2023’
August 10, 2016 Wednesday 11:33 PM By energynewsbd.com
The incumbent government has decided to produce 10% of the total electricity from nuclear energy by 2021. In a bid to achieve that target, the implementation of the first ever nuclear power plant is going on in a full swing. Even though the government wants to hit that deadline, practically, it will not be possible to add the electricity from nuclear plant into the national grid before October 2023. The electricity will be supplied from a 2,400 MW (two units-each 1,200 MW) nuclear power plant in Rooppur in Pabna. Upon implementation, this will be the largest power plant of the country. Nuclear power is a reliable source for producing electricity. It is possible to produce more than two thousand kilowatts-hour of electricity from just one gram of uranium-235 whereas for producing the same from coal, several tonnes are needed. Besides, the electricity produced from nuclear plant is cheaper than other traditional sources. However, the security of a highly sophisticated establishment like a nuclear power plant is of paramount importance. If reactor security and safety can be ensured fully and an able human resource can be developed to run the plant, then the Rooppur plant will appear as a blessing for the country. Otherwise, it will be a pinnacle of disaster for Bangladesh. Aminur Rahman, Editor of energynewsbd.com recently talked with Yeafesh Osman, Minister for Science and Technology Ministry who is also considered as one of the key persons behind this implementation of the nuclear plant. In an exclusive interview with the online newspaper, Yeafesh Osman talked about how Bangladesh has walked this path of implementing its first ever nuclear plant and what is in stake in future centering the plant. energynewsbd.com: What is the latest update of the development of Rooppur nuclear power plant? Yeafesh Osman: The government of Bangladesh had recently signed credit deal worth of $11.385 billion with the government of Russian Federation in July 26 to ensure financing for the project. Earlier, in May 19, the agreement was initiated between the two countries. With the signing of this credit deal, the formalities for the implementation of the plant are completed. Now the actual work will begin. energynewsbd.com: What is the history behind the implementation of this historic plant? When will it start producing electricity? Yeafesh Osman: The construction of the plant will be done in two phases. At present, the work of first phase-which is preparatory stage-is in progress. For the construction of Rooppur Nuclear Power plant, Bangladesh government in November 2, 2011 signed an Inter Governmental Agreement (IGA) with the government of the Russian Federation. After that in January 15, 2013, the Bangladesh government signed a $500 million credit deal and initiated the first phase work for the project. As a continuation of those agreements, a total of four contracts have been signed with Atomstroyexport, the contractor appointed by the Russian Federation. Under the first and second agreements with Atomstroyexport, hundred percent field works of the project is completed. In total 80% of the works which was supposed to be completed under the fourth agreement is completed as of now. The rest of the work will be completed within the mid December 2016. The work of the second phase which is the construction (First concrete) of the main power plant will be start in August 2017. The provisional takeover of the first unit in experimental basis will take place in October 2023 and the second unit in October 2024.  The Final Takeover of the first unit will take place in October 2024 and the second unit in October 2025.  "As per the general agreement, Russia will supply the necessary fuel for the reactor for the first 3-4 years of commissioning and it has been made implicit under the total cost of the agreement."  energynewsbd.com: How much of the primary works for the plant has been completed till now? What is the amount of money that is being spent and for what purposes?  Yeafesh Osman: The Bangladesh government has signed a total of four contracts with Atomstroyexport, the contractor fixed by the Russian Federation.  100% field works under the first agreement has been completed. 100% field works under the second agreement has been completed. About 71% works including the civil construction and erection works of the preparatory stage under the third agreement has been completed. The fourth agreement was signed in January 7, 2015. As per the work schedule, the works under the fourth agreements have already been started. Basing on the progress status, it can be said that it will be completed in due time.  From the beginning of the project up until June 2015, a total of Tk 4,025 crore has been spent as a part of the preparatory stage of the project.  The works which were done in the preparatory stages are—  Engineering surveys, environmental impact assessment (EIA) and technical and financial feasibility studies. Finalisation of the design of the nuclear power plant and technical documentation as well as the finalisation of the construction design and working documents. Site development and infrastructural development and all the preparatory works which are being implemented under the third and fourth agreements.  energynewsbd.com: After the completion and commissioning of the nuclear power plant, will Russian Federation or Bangladesh bear the cost of maintenance and repair cost of the plant?  Yeafesh Osman: After the completion and commissioning of the Rooppur plant, Bangladesh government has to bear all the maintenance and repair cost of the plant.  energynewsbd.com: The general agreement of the plant has already been signed? What are the most salient features of the agreement?  Yeafesh Osman: Bangladesh signed the general agreement with Russian Federation in December 25, 2015.  The total cost of the agreement is $12.65 billion. Bangladesh will bear 10% which is $1.265 billion and Russian Federation will bear 90% which is $11.385 billion. The works that will be performed under the general contracts are –  The finalisation of the designs of unit-1 and unit-2 of the Rooppur nuclear power plant, their construction and commissioning. Strengthening of soil structure for the foundation of the plant to bear the load. Supply of necessary equipments up to the site. Supply of necessary nuclear fuel for the primary stage. Governing operational and technical aid for the plant from commissioning of the plant to warranty operation stage. Aiding in getting necessary licensing documents for the commissioning and operational activities of the nuclear plant as per the local and international accountability and guidelines. Training of necessary human resources for the operation and maintenance of the nuclear power plant. Construction of the infrastructure needed for the nuclear power plant. Facilitating of the loading/unloading of equipments, construction of berth/jetty and roads up until to that point in the project site. Setting up of infrastructure for radiation observation and emergency situation. Training of the people involved in the construction of the nuclear power plant.  energynewsbd.com: Russia will supply the necessary fuel for the nuclear reactor. The question is there is no provision about the cost of this fuel in the general agreement. Is there any possibility of having a separate contract for this?  Yeafesh Osman: As per the inter-state agreement between Bangladesh government and Russian Federation, the latter will supply fuel for nuclear plant up until its life time.  As per the general agreement, Russia will supply the necessary fuel for the reactor for the first 3-4 years of commissioning and it has been made implicit under the total cost of the agreement.  However, we will need to sign a separate agreement with Russia for this. We will fix the terms and conditions and later we will sign that accordingly. "Though the life cycle of this 2,400 MW plant is usually 50 years but it is estimated that it will be able to generate electricity for the next 80 years." energynewsbd.com: Russia will take care of the spent fuel and they will take that back to their country. Is there going to be a separate agreement for that? Who will bear the cost of that?  Yeafesh Osman: As per the IGA, Russia will take back the spent nuclear fuel. An attempt has been made to sign a separate IGA for that. The agreement will be signed after the signing of the mentioned Spent Fuel Management IGA. We are having discussion on this.  energynewsbd.com: What steps are taken to train able human resource to manage this sophisticated establishment?  Yeafesh Osman: A total of 1,927 persons have been engaged for the plant. As per the general agreement, necessary trainings have been given to them.           A total of 1,120 persons will be trained from Russian Federation for the handling of licensing works, reactor operation, fuel handling, management of radioactive material and waste management.  For the administration and other technical works, a total of 807 persons will be trained in Bangladesh by Atomstroyexport, the contractor appointed by the Russian Federation.  energynewsbd.com: What are the challenges that have been faced since the planning of the plant? What more challenges do you think are looming ahead?  Yeafesh Osman: For the implantation of capital intensive and highly technical projects, there are multifarious challenges.  The government has gotten ready to face all the challenges by keeping the accountability and guidelines imposed by local and international organisations for the implementation of sophisticated structure like nuclear power plant. Necessary refurbishments have already taken place in rail route and marine route for the transportation of heavy equipments needed for the plant.  To build an able human resource for the governance and operation of the plant, courses related with nuclear power has already been included in secondary and higher secondary curriculum.  The plan for including Nuclear Engineering course in undergraduate and graduate level has taken. A regulatory authority has been formed. With the aid of Russian Federation, an Msc degree in Nuclear Science and Technology has already been started in university level.  energynewsbd.com: What will be the contribution of Rooppur nuclear power plant in power sector of Bangladesh? What do you think?  Yeafesh Osman: Rooppur power plant will play a significant role not only in power sector of the country but also in other sectors as well.  Rooppur power plant is very environment friendly. There is no carbon emission in nuclear power plant. To be a middle income country, the electricity generation has to be increased rapidly. For that, there is no other option but to implement a nuclear power plant. The present government, to implement its vision-2021 plan has taken a massive Power Sector Master plan of producing 24,000 MW of electricity by 2021. Out of this 24,000 MW, 10% which is 2,400 MW will be produced from nuclear power plant in Rooppur. Though the life cycle of this 2,400 MW plant is usually 50 years but it is estimated that it will be able to generate electricity for the next 80 years. The most important factor is that if we consider our land scarcity and the issue of environmental degradation, then we truly do not have much option but to go for nuclear power plant. Nuclear power plant can produce a huge amount of electricity in a very small space.  Lastly, because of this plant, a door of knowledge is going to be open in front of us and for that we have to thank our Prime Minster Sheikh Hasina.  energynewsbd.com: Bangladesh is also planning to have another nuclear power plant in near future? What is the progress on that issue?  Yeafesh Osman: A committee comprised of the members from Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission, Public Works Department and Power Grid Company Limited of Bangladesh has already completed some of the primary works regarding that.   At the initial stage, a total of eight sites have been identified in Khulna, Barguna, Patuakhali, Noakhali and Feni. The final site will be selected after the completion of a feasibility study.     
Category: Interview
‘The main success of PDB is electrifying 76% area of Bangladesh’
June 16, 2016 Thursday 11:40 PM By energynewsbd.com
To implement the government’s plan of providing electricity in every household, state-owned organisation Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) is working relentlessly. Private sector has also been incorporated in electricity generation along with the government to materialize that dream. At present, around half of the country’s electricity is being produced from the private sector. It only becomes possible because of the harmonious functioning between the public and private sectors. The incumbent Chairman of BPDB Engr Md Shamsul Hasan Miah has long been working with the producers of electricity in private sector. This seasoned power sector professional recently sat with energynewsbd.com editor Aminur Rahman and talked about several issues including the role of private sector in producing electricity and the government’s plan of providing electricity to every household.   energynewsbd.com: BPDB has been providing service to its customers for nearly half a century. You are involved with this organisation for more than 35 years. How do you evaluate the activities of the BPDB? Md Shamsul Hasan Miah: BPDB started its journey in May 1 of 1972. During that time, BPDB was the lone organisation to generate, transmit and distribute electricity. In course of time when the needs had arisen, separate companies were formed to serve those purposes-electricity generation, transmission and distribution-separately. However, as of now, BPDB is still looking after the whole electricity generation scenario. Along with that, it has been supplying electricity to some areas as well. The transmission of electricity is conducted by a company of BPDB though. The main achievement of BPDB is that around 76% area of the country now has been brought under electricity. The government declares that it will provide electricity to every household by 2021. BPDB and other related organisations with the power sector are trying to complete that task by 2018. We hope that we will be able to do so by that time. energynewsbd.com: How much do you think the success can be achieved by forming companies in the power sector? Shamsul Hasan: This is a matter of the government policy. However, success comes if there are tuneful initiatives. These companies could be taken to a new height if they are run with proper and skilled management. The state-owned companies under the jurisdiction of BPDB and government are doing well right now. Time has come to properly monitor and regulate their activities to bring out better performance. “The state-owned companies under the jurisdiction of BPDB and government are doing well right now. Time has come to properly monitor and regulate their activities to bring out better performance.” energynewsbd.com: A large part of electricity in the country comes from private power producers or independent power producers (IPP). You have been involved with several IPP projects implementation for long. What is your opinion about the IPP and the entrepreneurs in this sector? Shamsul Hasan: It is true that around half of the total electricity production of the country comes from the private sector. The government always wants to meet the electricity demand of the people. Financing of different projects in the power sector is a challenging task. The government alone cannot be able to handle it. For that reason, the private sector has been involved with power production. Aside from one or two companies, most of the companies in the private sector are producing electricity with efficiency and competency. This is the biggest success in this sector.  Besides, the entrepreneurs in this sector are very brave and intelligent and those aid them in actively participating in the development of the country. energynewsbd.com: Primary fuel in an important factor in electricity production. The IPPs want to produce electricity through importing diesel and furnace oil. Do you think this will be beneficial for the sector? Shamsul Hasan: A number of companies are now producing electricity through importing furnace oil. The companies raise complain about the quality of the furnace oil which Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) imports. That’s why the companies are given the opportunity to import oil for electricity production. There is no scope of castigating that anymore. Besides, it is quite normal that they will import better quality furnace oil for the smooth operation of their own machines at the power plant. This is better for both the BPDB and the companies. “Under that initiative, around 70 thousand pre-paid meters have already been installed in the areas under BPDB jurisdiction. Another 1.39 lakh meters will be installed soon. This will reduce system loss as well as prompt efficiency.”  energynewsbd.com: Why coal as a fuel has been given so much priority for the electricity production? Shamsul Hasan: In one word-the lack of natural gas. The lion share of the country’s electricity still comes from natural gas and state-owned Petrobangla supplies that gas. Petrobangla has already declared that they will not be able to supply gas for new power plants. But electricity productions cannot be stopped because electricity keeps the wheel of national economy spinning. For that reason, priority is given on coal because coal will produce electricity in relatively cheaper prices. There are many cities in the developed countries including Frankfurt of Germany where the coal based power plants are located right inside the city. Because of the usage of state of the art ultra super critical technology and technologically advanced management, environmental pollutions could be kept well inside the bay. Even in Barapukria coal based plant in our country, where sub-critical technology is used, there has been no reported incident of environmental degradation there. There have been plans to produce around 1.4 million MW of electricity in 59 countries by 2035. The most will be produced in India and China. In Bangladesh, the per-capita carbon consumption in only 0.25 ton whereas in the developed countries, it is around 20 ton. Despite that, the government is determined to keep pollution as low as possible.  energynewsbd.com: Why the speed of electricity production from renewable energy is that slow? What is BPDB’s plan in that regard? Shamsul Hasan: There are several renewable sources including solar power, water and wind for electricity production. BPDB is mainly working on to produce electricity from solar power. The main problems with solar based power plant are lands and project costs because to produce one MW of electricity, four acres of land is needed; which means to produce 100 MW of electricity, 400 acres of land is needed. As of now works are underway to produce 7 MW in Kaptai, 200 MW in Teknaf, 50 MW in Mymensingh and 30 MW in Rangpur from solar power. Aside from this, plans are being chalked out to bring hydro-electricity from Nepal and Bhutan. “There have been plans to produce around 1.4 million MW of electricity in 59 countries by 2035. The most will be produced in India and China.” energynewsbd.com: What is the reason behind importing electricity from the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries? Shamsul Hasan: The government wants to utilize several sources in electricity production. For the construction large plants, the required lands and primary fuels are not aplenty in Bangladesh. The issue of financing is also involved with this. That’s why electricity is being imported from the government and private sectors of India and in near future, more electricity will be imported. A memorandum of understanding (MoU) is already being signed with Adani group of India. Besides, talks have been going on with Reliance and other Indian companies. energynewsbd.com: Recently, tenders have been floated to establish ten 100 MW power plants in ten places across the country under the private sector initiative. Why this decision is taken? Shamsul Hasan: A number of power plants have expired and in the next two or three years few more will follow. This plan has been mainly taken to fill up the gap that those plants have left. Besides, because of the shortage of gas now, we do not have any options. energynewsbd.com: What initiatives have been taken to ensure efficient usage of electricity? Shamsul Hasan: The power supplying companies including the BPDB are going to implement the pre-paid metering system on a large scale. Under that initiative, around 70 thousand pre-paid meters have already been installed in the areas under BPDB jurisdiction. Another 1.39 lakh meters will be installed soon. This will reduce system loss as well as prompt efficiency. energynewsbd.com: The government has given the directive to transform BPDB into a corporation like Petrobangla. What steps have been taken for that? Shamsul Hasan: As per the directive of the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, steps have been taken to transform BPDB into a corporation. A consultant firm will be appointed to facilitate the process. Already advertisements have been published in the newspaper asking Expression of Interest (EoI) from the interested applicants. Very soon, the consultant firm will be finalised. Further steps will be taken as per suggestion of the consultant firm.  
Category: Interview
Bangladesh fails to carry out due petroleum resources exploration in last 15 years
April 30, 2016 Saturday 11:12 PM By energynewsbd.com
Khondkar A Saleque Sufi, an eminent energy expert has been working in the energy sector of Bangladesh for the last few decades. He is currently living in Australia with his whole family. Sufi worked with the Afghanistan government for long time as an advisor for mitigating its energy crisis. He takes part in different seminars and workshops on energy issues at different countries across the world. He also writes on energy issues at different media. This multifaceted energy expert recently came to Bangladesh and energynewsbd.com Editor Aminur Rahman caught up with him and talked about Bangladesh`s energy crisis and its future. energynewsbd.com: You are working in energy sector for four decades. How do you evaluate the success and failure of Bangladesh energy sector over this period? Khondkar A Saleque Sufi: Bangladesh energy sector played major role in the impressive economic development of Bangladesh over this period. Cheaper gas availability made possible for cheaper generation of power. Cheaper gas and power made Bangladesh commodity very competitive in world market. Gas based energy generation and economic development is a major success for Bangladesh over the last four decades. At the same time mono fuel gas dependence and not diversifying fuel resources in time are major failures over this period. Bangladesh also failed to carry out required exploration and exploitation of petroleum resources over the last 15 years. On the other hand availability of cheaper gas and power caused mushrooming of energy inefficient industrial growth. Demand outpaced production causing huge deficit. Bangladesh could not exploit its substantial high quality coal resources for indecision over policy and strategy. Failure in ensuring energy efficiency and formulating economic pricing of energy and power is another failure. energynewsbd.com: Bangladesh is becoming increasingly dependent on energy and power supply from regional countries especially India. What are your views? Saleque Sufi: Bangladesh needs sustainable supply of primary fuel to support its power sector expansion. The power demand is growing at the rate of about 10% annually. Bangladesh has to import primary fuel and power from different sources to feed its economic growth for achieving national vision. Geographically Bangladesh is surrounded by India from almost three directions. It is not that India is self-sufficient in primary fuel and power. Certain regions of India have surplus and other regions have deficits. But some states of India have stranded fuel and power which India is guardedly exporting to Bangladesh. But depending on a single source creates uncertainty. Bangladesh must work to implement its mega power generation projects for targeted completion and import primary energy and fuel from diversified sources. It must also expedite exploration of own petroleum and coal resources for long term fuel and energy security. energynewsbd.com: What is your evaluation of gas sector of Bangladesh? What is your suggestion for confronting gas crisis? Saleque Sufi: There is no denial that failure of the gas sector in matching the supply with demand growth is the major reason for the present vulnerable energy security. There has been less than minimum exploration for new gas resources over the last 15 years. About 8.2 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) discovered gas reserve has been used between 2000 to 2015 against which the total new addition is a little over 1 Tcf. Lack of perspective planning, adoptions of projects without techno economic feasibility studies, utilisation of finite gas resources inefficiently in not too value addition industries led to serious crisis in the gas sector. Of the total production capacity of 2,740 million cubic feet per day (MMcfd) about 47% is produced from Bibiyana gas field. There can be production glitch any time. If that happens, then it will create huge crisis. As per the official statement the present gas deficit is over 600 MMcfd. But if unmet demand is added the present deficit is over 1,000 MMcfd and continues growing. Greater Chittagong area is suffering from gas drought over years. Government initiated plan for importing 500 MMcfd equivalent LNG imports in 2010 with a target of achieving it by 2013. However, the existing situation indicates that it may not happen before 2019. By then the national production may deplete to 2,000 MMcfd and deficit may grow to over 1,500-2,000 MMcfd. Relying exclusively on Bangladesh Petroleum Exploration and Production Company Limited (BAPEX) for onshore exploration was also not smart. BAPEX did its best in exploring few marginal gas fields. But these were not enough for meeting the huge deficit. The actions for offshore exploration and deep water exploration are frustrating. It is suggested to undertake the following on top priority basis. Expediting LNG import initiatives and reviewing gas price to make industry ready for absorbing LNG price shock. Concluding JV between BAPEX and selected International Oil Companies (IOCs) for further exploring identified structures in the greater Chittagong area Adopt rational and feasible exploration and drilling program of BAPEX in its allotted blocks and ring fenced areas Letting out production sharing contract (PSC) for engaging IOCs in onshore frontier areas outside BAPEX ring fenced areas Facilitating IOCs in exploring and developing resources in allotted offshore blocks Reviewing model PSC for making it more investment friendly and go for fresh Offshore bidding round as Soon as possible Adopting strategy for rational use of gas for demand management ( replacing natural gas use with LPG wherever feasible)  Placement of right professionals in the right place and empowering the Petrobangla company boards for managing the company affairs free from bureaucracy energynewsbd.com: Recently an Indian secessionist group has threatened to blow up gas production and transmission infrastructure of Bibiyana Gas field. What are your views about this threat? Saleque Sufi: Organised terrorist groups in different countries have blown up petroleum supply infrastructures. I hope such threat has been taken with due seriousness. Gas Transmission Company Limited Bangladesh (GTCL) and Petrobangla alone cannot secure the infrastructure from terrorist attack. Chevron has possibly the best security system of their gas production infrastructure. But pipelines are vulnerable. From my experience of very difficult struggle in managing integrity of North South Condensate Pipeline as Director (Operation) GTCL I would suggested government agencies supplementing 24/7 vigilance of the system. energynewsbd.com: You have spent a major time of your career in gas pipeline construction and operation management. Do you think there is any such possibility of gas black out like power grid collapse? Saleque Sufi: Gas transmission is different from power transmission. Gas grid usually has significant line pack (high pressure inventory of gas). The present gas system demand supply is so imbalanced that even line pack use cannot meet the demand. Moreover, transmission system has accumulated condensate and sludge for failure in carrying out routine on stream pigging. There may be condensate surge if the lines are not pigged soon. That may cause embarrassing situation. If the condensate surge ingress in the suction side of compressor stations there may be gas transmission system black out. Exclusive dependence on three major gas fields Bibiyana, Titas and Jalalabad for over 80% supply may also cause gas system black out if one or two gas fields have forced outage. energynewsbd.com: Well below 50% population of Bangladesh have pipeline supply of gas. Government could not ensure reliable supply of fuel for cooking yet. What do you think government should do? Saleque Sufi: Government must seriously consider phasing out pipeline supply of gas for domestic use as soon as possible. Aggressive program for replacing this with reliable supply of LPG at affordable price must be the feasible option. It is almost impossible to identify all illegal connections and pipelines and remove these. Moreover, the system has become vulnerable for accidents from leakages. Domestic gas supply infrastructure in major distribution networks has become vulnerable. Old pipelines have been corroded. Many unauthorised pipelines and connections have made system messy. Older companies like Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company Ltd (TGTDCL), Karnafuli Gas Distribution Company Limited (KGDCL) and Bakhrabad Gas Distribution Company Limited (BGDCL) do not have institutional memory and reliable as build drawings. In case of failures of a section it is often difficult to locate isolation valve. The frequent visits of earthquake may cause catastrophic damages from gas system failures. Government must adopt plan in phasing out all gas connections for domestic and commercial use within the next three years. Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) bottling and supply should be subsidised and price must be regulated. energynewsbd.com: Bangladesh has agreed to provide corridor for India for transporting LPG and Liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Northern Indian States? Indian state owned company Indian Oil Company Ltd (IOCL) has signed a MoU with Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) for setting up a large LPG plant in Chittagong. Bangladesh will let its pipeline infrastructure to allow IOCL transport some LPG to Northern states after meeting Bangladesh requirements. How do you think it can benefit Bangladesh? Saleque Sufi: I always believe that regional connectivity of power and energy grid will benefit countries of the region for achieving sustainable energy security. We missed an opportunity in 2005 for gas supply from Myanmar through the proposed Myanmar-Bangladesh-India tri nation pipeline. Bangladesh needs primary energy from any possible sources to keep its economic development growing. Own discovered gas resources is fast depleting. New resources may not be available soon. In this scenario Indian company setting up large LPG plant in Bangladesh will boost Bangladesh endeavor for securing fuel supply. After meeting Bangladesh requirement if LPG is exported from Indian plant in Bangladesh to Indian states I find nothing wrong here. But LPG and natural gas is not the same commodity. A separate pipeline will need to be built for LPG. A win-win contract will benefit both parties. Similarly if India agrees to export LNG converted gas to Bangladesh and transport gas through Bangladesh to Indian states in the north, it might come out as be beneficial for both the countries. Bangladesh will get wheeling charge for letting India use its transmission pipeline infrastructure. Bangladesh will also get gas from such arrangements. But Bangladesh must negotiate the contracts properly. It must be win –win for both parties. energynewsbd.com: Government is contemplating for concluding PSC like gas sector for coal exploration. Though it is rare yet do you consider it will be useful for Bangladesh? Saleque Sufi: PSC in coal and mining sector is rarely done for exploring the resources in developing countries. There are examples of such PSCs in Queensland and Western Australia. However, it may take long time for Bangladesh for preparing investment friendly model PSC for Coal Exploration. Bangladesh wasted decade over indecision for coal exploration. It is highly unlikely that major mining companies would be interested in PSC for coal exploration and development in Bangladesh. It may be another waste of time. Bangladesh mines and minerals acts and policies have enough provisions for dealing with coal mining issues. Bangladesh must I repeat must explore its own coal resources as soon as possible and set up mine mouth coal fired power generation plant as own coal is the most feasible and affordable fuel option. energynewsbd.com: Government has recently tasked Hydrocarbon Unit to finalise the coal policy. Government has failed to finalise this for a long time. What are the reasons for this according to you? Saleque Sufi: Anyone can question the sincere intention of the government about mining own discovered coal reserve. Bangladesh has Mines and Minerals act and policies. It also has environment policy. Mining act Barapukuria is being done under the coverage of that policy. The contract at Phulbari was signed within the ambit of such policy. For mining coal or any other mineral there is hardly any need for a separate coal policy. Coal mining is being done in many countries of the world. But how many countries have separate coal policy? Still as coal policy was conceived to be adopted it must not have taken almost 10 years for three different governments to conclude the policy. We are not sure how much Hydrocarbon Unit can assist here as the very mind set of the government needs changing about mining own coal . energynewsbd.com: Bangladesh is lagging behind in offshore exploration for Hydrocarbon resources? What should be done? Saleque Sufi: Bangladesh was the first country in the region to enter the Bay of Bengal in 1974 for offshore exploration when six IOCs were awarded production sharing contract (PSC) for 8 offshore blocks. But once that endeavor was over it took several years for Bangladesh to renter offshore exploration. The reasons behind this were the maritime boundary disputes with Myanmar and India. Bangladesh also failed to create enough incentives in its model PSC for attracting major IOCs in risk investments. Major IOCs had a view that Bangladesh PSC could not create Win-Win contract. IOCs viewed that it could not create healthy balance in risk and reward. Also protracted multi-tier decision making process remained as disincentive. There is a believe that ConocoPhillips for strategic reasons for brightening its portfolio in money market signed and held few offshore blocks for several years without genuine interest of developing those. Finally it opted out from those. Bangladesh failed to expedite preparatory actions for fresh bidding rounds after resolutions of maritime boundary disputes while Myanmar and India are in far advanced stages. Failure in engaging surveyors for multi-client survey for acquiring data and information is a sad episode. Bangladesh needs updating its PSC creating required additional incentives for attracting IOCs in highly expensive deep water exploration. IOCs in general are not much interested for risk investment at this time of low crude oil price in global market. Petrobangla and Energy and Mineral Resources Division (EMRD) need to smarten its PSC management and negotiation skills a great deal. There are no reasons why Bangladesh PSC block bidding won’t attract IOCs the same way at these do everywhere else. Gas pricing, fiscal incentives, market access, risks allocations need fresh look and approval process need to be smartened. energynewsbd.com: What government should do for human resources development in the energy sector? Saleque Sufi: Let me discuss the matter in a wider perspective. There has been huge brain drain of competent officials from gas and power sector creating huge void. Now it has become a huge challenge in finding required competent human resources for managing several mega energy and power projects. Governance structure of power and energy sector is a major issue. Government is too much into power and gas system day to day operation. State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) have too much interference in their affairs from governing ministries. This does not help growing competent responsible executives in energy sector. SOEs must have autonomy as mandated in the company act and must be governed by properly constituted board of directors. A properly constituted and manned Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) should act as economic regulator of power and energy for creating accountability and efficiency in power and energy business. BERC must act freely and independently as per its mandate. Too many irrelevant persons get the benefits of foreign trips and short training those are being made now. There must be a well thought human resources development policies. The training institutes of Power and Energy Sector in Bangladesh can have twinning arrangements with leading regional and international institutes. Universities and industries must develop linkages. Undergraduates must have feel of the industry before they graduate. There must be scope of research in universities. Recruitment of right professionals, a carefully crafted training and human resources development policy. Government and industry must get benefit from each foreign trip and training.     
Category: Interview
‘Rampal power plant first unit will be functional by 2019’
April 1, 2016 Friday 7:54 PM By energynewsbd.com
The government is constructing a 1,320 MW coal fired power plant at Rampal, Bagerhat ‎to meet up the ever increasing electricity demand of our country. Aside from meeting the electricity demand, this mega power plant will also create a huge employment opportunity for the local people. However, this plant which is being constructed near Sundarbans, a world heritage site, has instigated several debates and posed various challenges among several quarters. Under the circumstances, Editor of energynewsbd.com Aminur Rahman interviewed U K Bhattacharya‎, Managing Director of Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company Ltd (BIFPCL), the implementing agency of the plant and talked about ‎several issues with him. energynewsbd.com: What is present status of your company as well as 1,320 Maitree Super Thermal Power Project? U K Bhattacharya: Notice of award has been issued on January 31, 2016 to Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) for the main plant Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) turnkey package. The activities for financial closure are in progress. As far as site works are concerned, land development for main plant area completed, boundary wall constructed and construction power supply at 33 kV available at site. “This is the largest power project and one of the largest infrastructure projects in Bangladesh requiring huge fund making it a challenging task from financing and project management point of view.”     Initial infrastructure like access road, office cum residential complex, store, security watch tower, gate, etc. are in various stages of completion. RO water plant commissioned for drinking water purpose. The EPC main plant work shall start immediately after financial closure. However, all out efforts are being made to achieve financial closure within seven months. energynewsbd.com: What are the major challenges to set up in this project? U K Bhattacharya: This is the largest power project and one of the largest infrastructure projects in Bangladesh requiring huge fund making it a challenging task from financing and project management point of view. The local site conditions like poor soil condition, high rainfall and high wind velocity make this Hi-tech project an engineering challenge. Coal will be transported through sea and the Pussur river channel. Non-availability of adequate, experienced and skilled manpower, construction material and machinery in Bangladesh make it even more challenging to construct and manage the project within time and budget. energynewsbd.com: What are the preventive measures you have undertaken for environmental pollutions from the power plant? U K Bhattacharya: Maitree Project is located at a safe distance from Sundarbans (14 km). The nearest heritage site of Sundarbans is situated beyond 69 kilometers from the power plant. Further, wind direction being predominantly away from the Sundarbans, acts as a natural shield to the Sundarbans. On top of that BIFPCL is voluntarily following the stringent World Bank/IFC environment standards to make it an environment friendly project. The following are some of the technical measures adopted for protection/conservation of environment: •  Modern and efficient supercritical technology with high steam temperature and pressure. This will reduce coal consumption and green house gas emission. •   Imported coal of high calorific value, low sulphur and low ash content will be used. •   Provision of completely covered coal storage yard and enclosed conveyors. •   Advanced burner design for reduction of NOx levels. •   Very High efficiency ESP (99.9%) for dust control and filtration.  •   Provision of flue gas desulphurization system to further arrest air borne pollution and SOx. •   275-meter (more than 900 ft) high chimney. •   100% utilisation of ash. •   Closed water recycle system with modern cooling tower technology will be used. •    Large scale afforestation will be done to improve the natural ambience and provide carbon-sink. •    Environment management plan will be implemented to ensure environmental safeguard. energynewsbd.com: After completion of this project, will there be any negative impact on inhabitants, Sundarbans and ecology? U K Bhattacharya: As the project is located at a safe distance from Sundarbans and the aforesaid stringent technical measures being adopted to make the project environment friendly, we do not foresee any negative impact on inhabitants, Sundarbans and ecology from the Project. energynewsbd.com: What kind of Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR) activities you have undertaken from your company for the locals welfare? U K Bhattacharya: A medical facility is already operational at site for almost two years now. Besides, free consultation, medicines are also given to visiting locals, free of cost. We have started felicitating the meritorious students from the nearby schools and colleges by giving them prizes etc. to encourage them for further academic achievements. We are planning to undertake other CSR activities, in consultation with government of Bangladesh from time to time to benefit the local population as well as nature. We are looking at the possibility of sponsoring a project, in association with BPDB/Govt. of Bangladesh for benefits of wildlife in the Sundarbans. Also, a fund will be created by fixing 3 paisa levy from per unit generation of power from this coal based power plant. This fund (estimated Tk 27 crore per annum) will be utilized for the welfare and socio-economic development of local people in and around the project areas. energynewsbd.com: What is your view about the ongoing protest against this power project? U K Bhattacharya: As explained earlier, the project will be environment friendly and will not harm the Sundarbans. By creating growth opportunities in the surrounding area, the project would rather reduce the dependence of local population on Sundarbans for their livelihoods. This will automatically help conserving Sundarbans. energynewsbd.com:  As a new company what types of Human Resource Policies will be undertaken by your company? U K Bhattacharya: As a modern and progressive company we are committed to be an “Equal opportunity company with humane approach”. This will be the corner stone of our HR policy. In the areas of talent management as well as fair compensation we will be the best in the industry and will be comparable to reputed multinational companies of similar nature. Our focus shall be on development of dedicated and motivated team of professionals who would efficiently drive the company forward. energynewsbd.com: What kind of technologies would be used to set up this power plant? U K Bhattacharya: Modern Supercritical Technology with high efficiency has been selected to provide reliable and affordable power in an environment friendly way. Steam Temperature- upto 600 deg. C Steam Pressure- upto 270 Bar This technology increases efficiency and reduces the quantity of coal burning requirement per unit of electricity output. It will produce much lesser greenhouse gas (CO2) as compared to many available technologies in Coal based thermal power generation. Besides, the latest state of the art automation technology is being adopted for high performance.       “The first unit will come into generation by December, 2019 and second unit after six months thereafter. However, BIFPCL is looking at the possibility to compress the schedule for early generation.” energynewsbd.com: What would be the reflections of people’s hopes and aspirations for the development of their livelihoods from this power plant? U K Bhattacharya: A fund will be created by fixing 3 paisa levy from per unit generation of power from this coal based power plant. This fund will be utilized for the welfare and socio-economic development of local people in and around the project areas. Socio-economic Benefits from this project: Employment opportunities for the people in the region; Infrastructure development in the region; Improve communication facilities; Health Securities for the local population Urbanization and quality of life improvement for local people; Market development and value chain facilities.   energynewsbd.com: When this project is expected to come into generation of power? U K Bhattacharya: First generating unit shall be synchronized within 41 months from financial closure and commercial generation shall start soon thereafter. The first unit will come into generation by December, 2019 and second unit after six months thereafter. However, BIFPCL is looking at the possibility to compress the schedule for early generation.    
Category: Interview
‘VVER-1200 which is going to be used in Rooppur is the most modern and safe technology’
March 2, 2016 Wednesday 12:51 PM By energynewsbd.com
For the first time in Bangladesh`s history, a nuclear power plant is going to be built at Rooppur of Pabna district. Russian State Owned Atomic Energy Corporation ‘Rosatom’ which is currently responsible for 37% of nuclear reactors under construction worldwide, will build, operate and provide fuel for the plant. On invitation from Rosatom, Faisal Mahmud recently visited Russian state of the art Rostov Nuclear Power Plant in Volgodonsk to get an insight of nuclear power plant operation and its safety procedure. Upon that visit, he came up with some questions which were clarified by Maksim V Elchischev, the vice-president of JSC NIAEP who is also in-charge of the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant (RNPP) project from Russian side. JSC NIAEP is an affiliate of Rosatom. Here are the details of that interview for the reader’s of energynewsbd.com. energynewsbd.com: How safe is the Russian nuclear reactor technology? Does Russia use state of art technology in building nuclear power plant? Maksim V Elchischev: Design decisions of nuclear power plant (NPP) built according to Russian technologies meet all modern requirements of the world nuclear community fixed in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Safety Standards. An important guarantee of nuclear safety at plants built according to Russian technologies is also a long-term trouble-free operation experience. Considering the safety of nuclear power plants Russia takes the leading place in the world, because in its projects the safety technology gets the highest priority. The main objective of safety at nuclear power plants built according to Russian technologies is the protection of operating personnel, the public and the environment from radiation exposure at all stages of operation of a nuclear power plant, including accidents at design and post design stages. Russian reactors are in the leading group considering reliability (according to the World Association of Nuclear Operators - WANO). Russian projects security has been tested not only with time, but also by natural disasters. Buildings and infrastructure of the Kudankulam NPP (India) withstood the Sumatra tsunami in 2004. In 1988 the Armenian Nuclear Power Plant experienced a 7-magnitude earthquake that destroyed the town of Spitak. A series of earthquakes with an epicentre in Romania was withstood the Bulgarian NPP Kozloduy nearby built by Soviet specialists. NPPs in Russia are operated safely and reliably, as evidenced by the results of regular inspections as an independent authority (RTN) and international organizations (WANO, etc.). "Russian projects security has been tested not only with time, but also by natural disasters. Buildings and infrastructure of the Kudankulam NPP (India) withstood the Sumatra tsunami in 2004."     Over the last 5 years at the Russian nuclear power plants there have been recorded no serious security breaches, classified above the first level on the international scale INES (International Nuclear Event Scale). As for the reliability criterion at a nuclear power plant Russia ranks second in the world among countries with developed nuclear power, ahead of such countries as the US, UK and Germany. The high degree of nuclear safety at Russian nuclear power plants has been secured by a number of factors. The main of them - is the principle of self-protection of the reactor plant, the presence of multiple safety barriers and multiple duplication of safety channels; the use of active and passive safety systems. In addition, safety culture at all plants operates at all stages of the life cycle, from site selection to decommissioning. energynewsbd.com: Rosatom offers Bangladesh to use their VVER 1200 reactor technology for the Rooppur nuclear power plant. What is its advantage? Where else Rosatom uses this technology? Maksim: The project will use technology VVER-1200 - a project of generation III +, which fully meets the modern requirements of the Russian Federation and the IAEA. VVER technology has been developing for 50 years and is widely distributed in the world. The experience of successful operation of VVER already exceeds 1,400 reactor years accident-free. Nuclear power plants with VVER reactors built with the participation of Russian experts in Finland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and other countries. The basis for the VVER 1200 technology was the technology of the VVER-1000. It was used to build a number of nuclear power plants in Russia (11 units) and abroad: in Bulgaria (2), Ukraine (13), Czech Republic (2), India (2), Iran (1) and China (2). In 2014, two VVER-1000 units were commissioned: Russia`s third unit of the Rostov nuclear power plant, and in India the 1st unit of NPP Kudankulam, which was included in India’s national energy grid in 2013, reached full capacity in July 2014. Then in December 2014 it was handed over to India to the annual period of guarantee maintenance. On February 22, 2016, the first unit of the Kudankulam NPP has been reconnected to the grid after the scheduled preventive maintenance which started in June 2015. It’s currently India’s most powerful reactor. The generation tariff for Kudankulam NPP is maintained at the level set by the Indian Government in 2010-2011 without any escalation. This rate is considered to be one of the most competitive in India. The second unit assembly is finished. The hot run stage is completed. The physical launch is scheduled by the Indian party for mid-2016. The oldest US power energy magazine Power Engineering (published since 1896), is one of the most respected in the world of professional media, called the nuclear power plants in Iran and India, built by Russian Technologies, the winners of the "projects of the year - 2014" in the category "Nuclear Energy ". Modern designs of NPPs with VVER reactors belong to the generation 3+ and have a combination of active and passive safety systems, including - four independent channels of security, provide resistance to the design and beyond design basis accidents, calculated on the full simulator - a mathematical model of a virtual unit. "In 2014, two VVER-1000 units were commissioned: Russia`s third unit of the Rostov nuclear power plant, and in India the 1st unit of NPP Kudankulam, which was included in India’s national energy grid in 2013, reached full capacity in July 2014."                                                                                                         At present several plants are built in Russia and abroad according to the project VVER-1200. For example, a hot operational testing of the 1st unit of Novovoronezh NPP-2 has been completed in the end of 2015, it’s physical launch is scheduled for 2016’s first quarter. The construction of NPP in Belarus goes strictly in compliance with schedule. The launch of the first unit of the plant is scheduled for 2018, of the second one — in 2020. Also according to this project plants will be built in Finland, Hungary and Egypt. energynewsbd.com: What will be the method of transportation of the nuclear reactor and other equipment to Bangladesh? Has Russia done a feasibility study for the organisation of the transport infrastructure in Rooppur? Maksim: As part of the development of project documentation of NPP Rooppur, the Russian side has done transportation and logistics survey of delivery of heavy and large equipment on the territory of Bulgaria as test case to understand the whole scenario. The transport infrastructure of Bulgaria has been studied, the options for delivery by road, rail and water transport as well as mixed options were discussed and a transportation methodology was formulated basing on that study. For delivery of cargo weighing up to 100 tons rail and road transport will be used. To deliver nuclear reactor and other heavy equipment water ways will be used. Delivery will be done through Mongla port up to the site of NPP Rooppur where the necessary berthing facilities will be built. energynewsbd.com: How Rosatom manages radioactive waste and spent fuel? Maksim: "Rosatom" offers its partners not only the construction of nuclear power plants but a complex or as we call it, an integrated solution that includes a full range of products and services in the nuclear industry, ensures sustainable development of the national nuclear power system for the long term; It provides unprecedented opportunities for involvement and the development of local industrial base. At the moment, Rosatom is the only company in the world that offers a solution that covers the entire nuclear chain, including extraction and enrichment of uranium, design and construction of nuclear power plants, supply of equipment, provision of nuclear fuel, service as well as complex solutions in the field of back -end: the issues of radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel treatment and decommissioning of old stations. Russia attaches great importance to the last stages of the nuclear fuel cycle management of spent nuclear fuel, including reprocessing, radioactive waste management (air conditioning, disposal). Russia uses the principle of not leaving to future generations the unreasonable burden associated with the need to ensure the safe handling of radioactive waste. Thus in Russia processing and handling of spent nuclear fuel or radioactive waste is conducted in such a way as to significantly reduce their volume and duration of activity. Also, Russia is the only country in the world, which is developing the project for the closure of the nuclear fuel cycle on the basis of "fast neutrons". The "fast" technologies reactors are in possession of very few countries, and Russia is the world leader in this field. Fast neutron power units serve for substantial extension of the fuel base of the nuclear energy and to minimize the amount of waste due to the closed nuclear fuel cycle. Closed nuclear fuel cycle - the nuclear fuel cycle in which spent nuclear fuel is removed from the reactor, reprocessed to recover uranium and plutonium and then reused to make nuclear fuel. "The Fast power" is able to dramatically affect the accumulation of radioactive waste, especially high-level, which is formed in the process of "burning" the nuclear fuel in the reactor. Russia`s experience in the field of radioactive waste management is notable for the fact that Russian technology won the tender for the selection of an experimental setup for decontamination of radioactive water accumulated at the plant "Fukushima" in Japan. Russia`s experience in the field of radioactive waste management is also notable for the fact that Russian technology to solve the problem of purification of tritium liquid radioactive waste in 2014 was selected along with the bids of the North American companies Kurion Inc and GE-Hitachi Canada Inc among 29 bidders through an international tender for construction of a demonstration plant for decontamination of radioactive water at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan accumulated after the disaster in 2011. energynewsbd.com: Is there a standard volume of water or the required parameters for cooling water at the nuclear power plants with capacity of 1000 MW? If so, what are those and how those are calculated? Maksim: There is no standard volume or any special parameters for the cooling water for nuclear power plants of any capacity. The volume of water required for a nuclear power plant depends on the nuclear power plant’s capacity, the system of the technical water supply as well as on the climatic conditions of the station’s location. The volume of water is calculated individually for each station based on the analysis of natural and industrial factors, environmental protection and rational use of natural resources. For NPP "Rooppur", where 2 units with VVER reactors of 1,200 MW each will be built, a system of cooling with evaporative cooling towers was adopted. A cooling tower is an important facility of a power plant’s infrastructure. This hydraulic structure is designed for cooling water systems in a nuclear power plant’s water recycling system. From the river only the water required to make up for losses to evaporation and carryover from the cooling towers and the technological needs of the plant is collected. In total, these losses amount to 259,200 cubic meters per day, which is equivalent to only 1.6% of the minimum flow of the river Padma in the area of the nuclear power plant "Ruppur" site.    
Category: Opinion
‘Policy shifting from rental to solar power is a right decision‎’
January 15, 2016 Friday 6:54 PM By energynewsbd.com
Munawar Misbah Moin has long been working to popularise the renewable energy usages in Bangladesh.  Especially, he has emphasised and worked on to promote usages of renewable energy (RE) in the private sector. Currently, Munawar is the Senior Vice-president of Bangladesh Solar and Renewable Energy Association (BSREA) and also the Managing    Director of Rahimafrooz Renewable Energy Limited, one of the leading private sector companies. In an exclusive interview with energynewsbd.com Editor Aminur Rahman, this pioneering entrepreneur talked about the present scenario and achievements of the RE sector. energynewsbd.com:  What is your viewpoint about the government decision of switching its interest from the rental power plant to the solar based power plant? Munawar Misbah Moin:  As you know till the mid of 2009, nearly 90% of our energy used to come from gas. However, at the end of 2009 the practical scenario was different than what we used to think before that our country was floating on gas. Not too many new reserves had been discovered resulting in recurrent power failure. To cope with the severe power crisis, the government went for contractual agreements such as quick rental power plants and small independent power producers (SIPPs), mostly diesel or furnace oil based on an emergency basis. Since then, the primary energy mix has changed with the increase of imported liquid fuel share. Thus the government has two options in front of it, either to raise power tariffs or have to subsidise heavily. “Government is also inviting privately sponsored solar projects. The response is very positive and till now nearly 40 private companies submitted their proposal valuing more than 1000MW.”     Off course there must be some sort of cap on how much higher prices can be charged in one side. Government is well aware of the importance and sustainability of renewable and hence set 10% RE target by 2020. Hence, the government decision of switching its interest from the rental power plant to the solar based power plant is right on two fronts-first for long time sustainability and then for reducing the green gas emission. energynewsbd.com:  Is it possible for the private investors to produce huge electricity by the solar based power plants? Munawar:  Private investors interested in megawatt (MW)-size solar energy project want a feasible tariff structure based on clear and concrete policy. Also, the tariff should be fixed based on project size and duration of project implementation. Hence, it is possible for the private investors to produce huge electricity by solar based power plant provided that congenial or win-win situation prevails among the private investors, utility agencies and other stakeholders. Also, Government should provide favourable concrete policy and declare fixed tariff rate. This will help attract reputed investors to invest here in Bangladesh. I believe those are essential for the investors to calculate the risk and return on their investments. energynewsbd.com:  Previously, in some cases the government had failed to build solar power plants even after the deals were struck with the private investors. Do you feel this time the government will be succeeding in doing so? Munawar:  It is true that the government had failed to build solar power plants even after the deals were made with the private investors. This can be attributed to insufficient government attention including a lack of feasibility studies and the absence of a concrete and acceptable tariff policy. It seems that the government is now serious for a tariff policy to procure electricity from big renewable power grids. A number of projects are being implemented under several initiatives like public-private partnership (PPP), independent power producers (IPPs) and rental power in private sector. Recently, government has approved construction of a 200 MW solar power project that will be constructed by SunEdison. If government put proper attention, I hope that they will be succeeding in no times. energynewsbd.com:  Will the government finally make it happen to produce 3,168 MW power from the renewable energy by 2021? We learned that of the plan, solar plants supposed to produce 1,740 MW. Is it possible? Munawar:  Bangladesh government has set a target of producing 3,168 MW power from renewable energy by 2021, of which 1,740 MW from solar power, 1,370 MW from wind and, the remaining from biomass-based power generation technologies. The government already approved a proposal for setting up a 200 MW solar park, the largest ever grid-connected renewable energy project in Bangladesh, on a build-own-operate (BOO) basis in Teknaf. SunEdison will develop the project. This is a very good initiative towards achieving the goal. We are optimistic that the government will provide congenial investment atmosphere to attract both local and foreign developers to come and invest MW solar plant in Bangladesh.  Government is also inviting privately sponsored solar projects. The response is very positive and till now nearly 40 private companies submitted their proposal valuing more than 1000MW. Hence, I strongly believe that it is possible to produce 1,740 MW power by solar plant. “Central Bank needs to be empowered to play a bigger role in Green Financing, we are glad to hear that Bangladesh Bank is embarking on a US $200 Million green fund at below 5% fund cost.”     energynewsbd.com:  Which option is better to produce electricity from renewable energy in Bangladesh?  Solar/ wind or hydro? Can you please explain, why? Munawar:  Bangladesh is enriched many renewable resources such as solar energy, hydro energy, biomass energy and wind energy. All of them have been implemented already. In the context of Bangladesh, hydropower has very limited potential. Theoretically, micro hydropower could be feasible for some local electricity need but they will be seasonal. Most of the cities are few meters up from the sea level and hence there is not that much feasibility for hydropower except Chittagong Hill Tracts and few other places. Internationally accepted thumb rule that a site having annual average wind speed of 6.0 m/s or higher is feasible for harnessing wind electricity with commercial viability. So generating electrical energy using wind mill with commercial viability in Bangladesh is possible. However, this viability is found in the coastal area as the annual average wind speed is found to be more than 6.5 m/s. Solar energy is the best renewable energy source other than the primary nonrenewable sources in urban area. So the solar energy is the ultimate suitable form of renewable energy for urban region because of availability of plenty of sunshine. energynewsbd.com:  How private investors can solve the barriers of finding finance for large scale investment and problems related with land acquisition? Munawar:  MW Solar projects require big investment and it will be hard to take those from our own resources. Government can explore the possibility of getting money from the Green Climate Fund. Government should create a favourable investment environment along with concrete policy and fixed tariff. Such environment and policy will attract investors to invest here in Bangladesh. Central Bank needs to be empowered to play a bigger role in Green Financing, we are glad to hear that Bangladesh Bank is embarking on a US $200 Million green fund at below 5% fund cost. Large-sized solar power plants need a huge area of land to install solar panels. In Bangladesh uncultivable land is hardly available and hence the shortage barren land is a significant constraint for large scale solar plant. However, large sized solar power plant is being installed in haor/ Chor/non-agricultural land in Bangladesh. energynewsbd.com:  Please let me know about the programs over the renewable energy sectors you have taken at your company in present. What`s the plan for future? Munawar:  We will continue to work at the Access to Energy level with innovative technology, financing and business model that will continue to enhance and positively uplift and impact our rural population livelihood and quality of life. At the same time we will work with key stakeholders in scaling up RE, Specifically in a Solar PV with a solar irrigation pumps, Solar MW grid connected PV plants and roof tops. energynewsbd.com:  It will be great if you shed light about the future of renewable energy in Bangladesh. Munawar:  It is shaping up. With policy matter getting finalised, many Government of Bangladesh resource and budget being committed we see the possibility of 3500MW by 2021 a very feasible plan. However it is important that compared to the past, policy, funding and programs needs to be done effectively and timely ia.
Category: Interview
‘Oil prices falling for slowdown of economic growth’
December 18, 2015 Friday 8:04 PM By energynewsbd.com
Oil prices have been falling significantly. The Gulf countries are trying to deal with the decline, as their economies mostly depend on oil revenues. Feyza Gumusluoglu spoke to Qatar’s former energy and industry minister and ex-president of the Qatar Administrative Control and Transparency Authority, Abdullah bin Hamad Al Attiyah, who recently established the International Foundation for Energy and Sustainable Development. enegynewsbd.com has picked the interview as a worthy piece for its valued readers. Here is the full text: Question: Will oil prices continue to decline? How do you predict the future of the prices? Abdullah: When we look at the history of oil prices, we can see that it is not something new. We experienced the first oil shock in 1973, and then the oil price went up again, to reach almost $40. Then in 1985, we suddenly saw the oil prices going so low, even below $10. From 1985 until 2000, for 15 years the average price of oil was $16-17. It took 15 years for the price to increase after 2000 to reach $115-120. Now we see it hitting the lowest even below the 40s. In reality we went back to the 1990s price, considering the value of US dollar. This is a circle, it is not something new. My expectation today is that it will take years for oil to go back to normal again. Q: What is the main reason behind this decline? Abdullah: Now economic growth has been slowing in many countries like China, India, European nations, etc. Their economies are in a slowdown. So, the demand for oil has decreased. Also, the production of shale oil for the last few years has gone up, especially in the US. Producing shale oil was very expensive. Now you see that there is almost 2 million barrels of oversupply in the market. Stocks especially in the US are at their highest, demand is low. There is more oil coming into the market either from Opec producers or non-Opec countries such as Russia. We cannot predict that the price will increase in a few years, it is impossible. Unless Opec and non-Opec major producers sit together and try to cut some of the production. Q: So Opec alone cannot do anything? Abdullah: It can be solved only if all oil producers come together, not only Opec. Because Opec now can no longer control the market. Their share in the 1990s was almost 60 percent. Now it dropped to 30 percent. So they cannot do it alone. They have no more influence. Unless they receive a very strong commitment from the other producers. Even if Opec today decreases the production, they will be the losers because the others will take the share of the market and it will not be reasonable. The market will not react. They have to sit together and agree on how to cut the production. Q: Is this purely an economic decision or more political? Abdullah: It is economic. We hear those conspiracy theories but I don’t believe in them. I can assure you that there is no conspiracy. They say that they may have done it against Iran and Russia, but it is not true. Because at the end of the day, everyone will lose. Opec producers are heavily dependent on oil, they would shoot themselves. I have been in this business for the last 40 years, I can assure you that there is no conspiracy theory in this. Iran is a member of Opec, they know that Opec cannot do it. It is totally economic, it is about demand and supply. And where did this extra production come from? Not from Opec, from others! All of them are suffering now. There is no one to blame. When you are all suffering, all should sit and solve it, instead of waiting for somebody else to come and do it. Q: How will the Gulf countries manage this crisis? Abdullah: This is not new for them. It is not the first time and will not be the last. When you live in a dynamic economy, this is the cycle. There are good days and there are bad days. Yes, the Gulf countries will be affected for sure, because they are heavily dependent on oil revenues for their budget. But it is time for them to restructure their economies, shrink their budgets, cut some expenses. They have to accommodate themselves. Oil price always goes up and down very fast, it does not give you time to prepare yourself. We have always been advising our people, because they have a short memory. When we have a flourishing economy, expenditures increase, people forget until they get another shock. Q: How will this affect Qatar’s budget? Abdullah: The government is offering a lot. Qataris and even non-Qataris enjoy a heaven. No income tax, subsidised electricity, water, oil is very cheap, education is very cheap. We are a very unique country. Back in the 1990s we had this oil problem and we managed it. We tried to cut the fat, restructured the budget. I can assure you that Qatar can live well with low oil prices. We are a small country, we can manage it. H H the Emir’s recent speech in the Shura Council was a very nice statement. I call it a wake up call to the people, meaning that the government is always with the people, supporting them, but now it is time to help each other. We know that oil prices will go up again, but during this period we have to build a bridge, slow down instead of going at a high speed in order to control this crisis. I believe Qatar will manage this. Q: What is the plan for post-oil era? Abdullah: We always remember that oil and gas are limited resources and they are not renewable. They will be gone one day, after 80 or 100 years. For us it is a long period, but for next generation it is short. We always ask ourselves this question, what after oil and gas? We do not want to go back to where we were before. That is why we have economic diversification, sovereign wealth fund, investment, creating alternative revenues, investing in education, high technology. Qatar is a small country, a small country always moves faster than the big ones. We must search for our way after oil and gas. Q: Most people are curious about this: Will Qatar implement taxation? Abdullah: We already have taxation for foreign companies. We impose taxes on them. But I believe the government will not think about income tax anytime soon. They will think of other measures first. For electricity and water support, it will continue but there will be corrections in the subsidy. It will take place gradually, you cannot do it in one day. You should convince the people, give them good reason. If you compare Gulf countries to others, they are still way better. Everyone should make a sacrifice for his/her country during difficult times. We cannot just ask all the time without giving anything in return. And we do not ask for a big sacrifice at all. Q: Is there a strategy to raise awareness about reducing wastage of electricity and power? Abdullah: When I was the minister of energy, power was under my charge. I always told people, “This is gift from God. Our water is desalinated, it is very expensive. Power, too. So, please do not waste it.” Today, more than 30 percent is wasted. People should have awareness in order to reduce consumption. They leave the lights or air conditioning on even when they leave their homes. Personally, I try to educate my children. Of course, the government also has a plan. It started even before this crisis. We started putting out public advertisements in newspapers and TV channels about water and electricity. We introduced TV series, cartoons for children, we distribute some publications in schools. The recent speech of H H the Emir also created a lot of awareness. Q: Oil and gas are highly subsidised in Qatar. Will this continue? Abdullah: We already tried to change it a little, even during my days as a minister. It used to be cheaper than it is now, we increased it. If you see our first report from my foundation, titled “reversing the trend in domestic energy consumptions in the GCC”, it shows how the local consumption is very high and price is low. If we do nothing, in 15 to 20 years we may stop exporting oil. The manner of consumption should change. In Qatar, because of cheap petrol, we have a traffic jam. This is also part of the sacrifice. The government will increase it gradually, they have no choice. Even if the oil prices go up again, we have to change our habits. People here, not only Qataris, even foreigners have big cars. Because of cheap petrol, they do not drive small cars. These habits should change. Q: In the end, could you tell us more about your new foundation? Abdullah: When I left after spending 40 years in the energy sector, I said I cannot go home, I needed to work. So, I established this foundation. It was my dream to create a non-profit energy foundation that will hopefully survive even after me. It is not inherited, and my children have no share. We raise funds mainly from donations. We are not funded by the government, it is a totally independent foundation. The interview was first published Qatar’s Daily Newspaper The Peninsula on November 25, 2015.
Category: Interview
‘No fruitful steps in offshore exploration’
November 16, 2015, Monday 11:51:55:AM By energynewsbd.com
As one of the foremost voices of the country’s energy sector, Professor Dr Badrul Imam has long been saying that to stave off the looming energy crisis, there is no option in front of Bangladesh but to go for massive off-shore exploration. The Dhaka University professor who has a Ph.d in Petroleum Geology also believes that the state owned Bapex has achieved enough expertise to carry on on-shore exploration by itself. In an exclusive interview with energynewsbd.com Editor Aminur Rahman, this renowned expert talks openly about various issues on the country’s off-shore, on-shore explorations and energy security.   energynewsbd.com: The government had earlier floated tender for conducting multi-client seismic survey in the Bay of Bengal and an expert committee of the government had recommended awarding the work to a particular foreign company. Later, the government backtracks from that decision. How do you look into this matter? Professor Badrul Imam: I personally think that backtracking from that decision is completely illogical; especially the decision was canceled without showing any apparent reason even after the recommendation was made by an expert committee. It will hamper Bangladesh’s offshore exploration activities. The maritime boundary dispute with the Myanmar government was resolved after the international maritime court gave its verdict in 2012. After that, the Myanmar government started exploring in their off-shore blocks but Bangladesh still lags behind that. There is no debate that to stave off the current and looming energy crisis, there is no option in front of Bangladesh but to go for off-shore exploration. energynewsbd.com:  After the maritime boundary dispute was resolved, the neighboring Myanmar signed contract with a number of companies for off-shore exploration. Bangladesh however couldn’t do that as of now? What is your observation regarding that? Prof Badrul: Myanmar floated some international tender for off-shore exploration in 2013 and started completing the selection process among the interested foreign companies by the first quarter of 2014. They have signed production sharing contract (PSC) with more than ten foreign companies to conduct exploration works in 20 blocks in the Bay of Bengal. Those companies have already started conducting the exploration works there. Comparing to that, Bangladesh had been able to engage only two foreign companies through PSC contract to conduct exploration works in three blocks in the last three years. In the rest 23 blocks which comprises more that 80% of the total maritime regions of the country, no activities are going on now. So, the idea of over praising Bangladesh’s victory in maritime boundary case or delivering grandiloquent speech on blue economy becomes hollow as 80% of the area still remains unexplored. I believe slow progress in implementing plan, bureaucratic red tape and influence of a certain segment hinders the exploration work in the Bay of Bengal. energynewsbd.com: The current gas reserve of the country is limited and it will be finished within the next few years. What can the government do to check the imminent crisis? Prof Badrul: The current gas reserve of the country is lower than the demand and from 2017; the difference between the demand and supply will only increase. Within 2030, the supply of gas will become very limited. In this regard, the government should take two steps immediately. First, the government should try to increase the amount of exploration works inside the country and try to increase its reserve of gas. Especially, the government should take immediate steps to conduct exploration works in the off-shore block of the country. Secondly, the government should focus more on alternative energy of gas. Here by alternative energy, I mean coal. Bangladesh has a very good reserve of coal and the government should formulate appropriate policy to extract that coal and use it. In Rangpur and Dinajpur regions of the country, there is significant reserves coal and coal mine can be established there to meet up the energy demand of the country.  Besides, the government can try to import gas from other countries. It can also try to import electricity from Nepal, India and Bhutan. In the past, Bangladesh got the chance to import gas from Myanmar through pipeline but the country didn’t utilize that opportunity. Bangladesh can be sure of long term supply of gas if it can get included in the plan of importing gas from Iran through the planned tri-nation gas pipeline (IPI) among Iran, Pakistan and India. energynewsbd.com: Why cannot Bangladesh make foreign companies interested in carrying out exploration work in the Bay of Bengal? Prof Badrul: No large gas field inside Bangladesh’s maritime boundary has been discovered yet whereas such gas fields are already discovered inside India and Myanmar’s maritime boundary. Besides, the seismic information of the region in Bangladesh’s maritime boundary is not available. So it becomes hard to attract the foreign companies to carry out exploration work. Aside from this, the foreign companies demand more lucrative deals in the PSC which lengthen the whole negotiation process. energynewsbd.com: US based ConcoPhillips had stopped its operation in Bangladeshi parts of Bay of Bengal even after completing the 3D seismic survey as it said that the reserve of gas in block 10 and 11 is not profitable for commercial exploration. Do you think so or you think there might be some other reasons? Prof Badrul: ConcoPhilips said that it didn’t find exploring in off shore blocks commercially profitable. But for a large company like ConcoPhillips, accepting the challenge during the exploration face is the accepted practice in the energy sector. I don’t know why it staved itself off from that challenge. However, demanding the increase in price of gas (breaking the contract price) even after signing contract was illogical. Bangladesh did it right by not accepting that demand. If interested, ConcoPhillips could again come here for exploration works through competitive bidding but if it breaks the contract, then I do not see any reason to cave in into its demand. "Bangladesh did it right by not accepting that demand. If interested, ConcoPhillips could again come here for exploration works through competitive bidding but if it breaks the contract, then I do not see any reason to cave in into its demand." energynewsbd.com: As price if oil has fall down in the international market, the international exploration companies (IOCs) are now conducting their exploration works in slow pace under the new price structure. Is it true? Prof Badrul: The price of oil in international market hasn’t fallen down permanently rather it will be on an upward trend within a few years. The exploration works have slowed down because of the fallen oil price but it is not a permanent phenomenon. Besides, the IOCs are not interested about the oil in Bangladesh; rather those are interested about the gas. energynewsbd.com: In onshore, the state owned Bapex is conducting the exploration work in sole manner. Recently, Bapex had taken initiative to conduct joint venture exploration works in Chittagong region. Do you think, it will be lucrative for the country? Prof Badrul: Bapex has proven itself in carrying out exploration work in onshore and it has been successfully operating some gas fields in the mainland. In Chittagong and Chittagong Hill Tracts region, carrying out exploration works is a bit difficult than plain land because of its comparatively geological complex formations. If Bapex is being tagged along with some foreign companies to carry out exploration work in this region, then it will fasten the exploration process. But I believe that any contract under joint venture should be formed by keeping the national interest intact. We all know what the country needed to pay because of a faulty joint contract with Niko. energynewsbd.com: The government mulls to award onshore contract to the IOCs again? What is your opinion about that? Prof Badrul: As the state owned company is capable of conducting exploration work in the mainland, I believe there is no need of engaging foreign companies here because if we engage a foreign company here, then we have to share the gas with it. On the other hand, gas found by the state owned company is fully owned by the nation. Irony is, most of the gas-rich regions have already been awarded to the foreign companies. I demand to bring rest of the regions under Bapex. energynewsbd.com: What are the initiatives taken to strengthen the state owned Bapex? Prof Badrul: It is true that the Awami League led government had taken several initiatives to strengthen Bapex after it came to the power in 2009. A major problem with the state-owned company however is its shortage of technical manpower. "It is true that the Awami League led government had taken several initiatives to strengthen Bapex after it came to the power in 2009. A major problem with the state-owned company however is its shortage of technical manpower." Unfortunately in a recent advertisement for manpower in Bapex the number of position advertised for administrative section was 21 while only 2 positions were advertised for geologist. Yet, the geological division is currently under-staffed and at least 15 positions lay vacant. Perhaps even more problem on the ground is the bureaucratic way Bapex often tend to run its operation. For example the case with the present state of drilling in Pabna may be mentioned: The exploration work in Mobarakpur gas well in Sathia upazila in Pabna district was started back in July, 2014. Ironically, when the prospect of finding gas in that well looked bright, then the drilling pipe in that well got stuck because of complexity. In terms of technical issue, that incident was not an unusual one and the required step in that regard was to side track the drilling pipe from its previous vertical track and to carry on the drilling. If there were any private company, it could have immediately started that by hiring a third party but as Bapex, a state owned company, because it is not empowered with such provision. To avail that little service from third party, Bapex needs to go through lengthy steps of bureaucratic tangles. Months have gone after the incident, but the work still got stuck in red tape. This is how; a lot of projects have failed here.  
Category: Interview
November 1 blackout a wake-up call for power sector in Bangladesh
1, November, 2015, 3:52:59:PM By energynewsbd.com
Mohammad Hossain, Director General of Power Cell, a wing of Power Division which is considered as think-tank, said I think we have improved the grid system more than ever through different protective measures. But let me remind you that nobody can guarantee 100% risk free grid system. It has ever happened in the developed country as well. Following the blackout, an international consultant has been appointed for Power Grid Reliability Study. On the occasion of first anniversary of blackout took place on November 01, 2014 in Bangladesh, Hossain made the disclosure in an exclusive interview with energynewsbd.com Editor Aminur Rahman. energynewsbd.com: What measures you have taken in the mean time after the blackout happened on November 01, 2014? Hossain: Blackout of November 01, 2014 was a wake-up call for power sector of Bangladesh. The committee recommended several short term, mid-term and long term recommendations. Most of the short term recommendations were implemented. Steps have been taken to implement the mid-term and long term recommendations. Meanwhile, an international consultant has been appointed for Grid Reliability Study. The consultant will present its draft report on November 16, 2015. energynewsbd.com: Do you think if there is any kind of risk to occur such kind of blackout in Bangladesh? Hossain: I think we have improved the grid system more than ever through different protective measures. But let me remind you that nobody can guarantee 100% risk free grid system. It has ever happened in the developed country as well. energynewsbd.com: As a member secretary of the high profile body of the government formed to look into the causes behind the blackout, would you tell about the improvement of the persons or the organisations responsible for power collapse? Hossain: We have taken necessary measures to develop the human resource capacity as well as institutional capacity. energynewsbd.com: How often the country would have to face similar blackout due to the technical fault and why? Hossain: There is no engineering formula to measure how often such blackout can occur. But of course, we can minimize such accidents through the improvement of our grid system. That is what we are doing now. energynewsbd.com: Would you mind informing me of the latest development of power sector in Bangladesh? Hossain: The following is a comparative development of power sector since 2009:   Before 2009 Sept 2015 Generation Capacity (MW) 4,942 11,877 Highest Generation (MW) 3,268 (6 Jan` 2009) 8,177 (19 Aug` 2015) Transmission line (Ckt Km) 8,000 9,695 Grid Substation Capacity (MVA) 15,870 24,720 Distribution Line (Km) 2,60,000 3,41,000 Total Consumers (Million) 10.80 18.60 Per Capita Generation ( kWh) 220 371 Access to Electricity (%) 47% 74% System Loss (%) 18.45% 13.54% From the above, you can easily imagine that there has been a revolutionary progress in the Bangladesh`s power sector since 2009. energynewsbd.com: The government has a target for power supply to all by 2021. Is it possible? Hossain: By now, 74% of population has already been provided electricity. I am confident that remaining 26% will be brought under electricity coverage even before 2021. energynewsbd.com: The government has another plan in introducing prepaid meters. What are major challenges to install prepaid meters? Hossain: We have a plan to convert existing analogue/digital meters into prepaid meters within next 3 years. Meanwhile, about 1,00,000 meters have been installed, about 12,00,000 are under procurement process and another 1,20,00,000 (approx) are under project preparations. We have introduced unified prepaid meter system. However, still there are some challenges are: The utilities do not have adequate experts on pre-paid meter system. Huge budgetary involvement which needs to be arranged. Transformation process is also challenging. energynewsbd.com: Uninterrupted power supply is a big challenge for the country. How much time it may require for this? Hossain: We are pledge bound to provide uninterrupted quality electricity to all by 2021. We will achieve the goal, Insha`Allah. energynewsbd.com:: Would you tell me about the next power sector master plan? Hossain: We are now updating the Power System Master Plan (PSMP) 2010 with the assistance of Japan International Co-operative Agency (JICA), considering the changed scenarios in the power sector. It is expected that within next year we will have a new PSMP 2015 in place.
Category: Interview
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