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‘Lopsided planning delays RLNG evacuation’

Bangladesh gas franchise area in general and greater Chattogram region in particular is suffering from chronic gas crisis for over a decade.

Liquefied natural gas (LNG) import on time could comfort the situation if that could be professionally implemented. But inexperience and incompetence have let is drag on for years after years.

In the wake of proven gas reserve depleting government of Bangladesh launched LNG import program in 2010.

The plan was to start importing LNG using floating storage and re-gasification unit (FSRU) at Moheshkhali in Cox’s Bazar and evacuate re-gasified LNG to national gas grid through construction of Moheshkhali to Anowara 90KM 30 inches OD gas transmission pipeline.

In business as usual first such project should have led to 500 MMCFD RLNG available in national gas grid by 2013. Senior policy makers of the government on several occasions assured the nation about it.

All end users of the gas grid suffering from chronic gas crisis were waiting anxiously for it to happen. It is now end June 2018. FSRU is in position. LNG vessel with 500 MMCFD LNG is anchored at Moheshkhali since late April 2018. Managing Director of Rupantarita Prakritik Gas Company Limited (RPGCL) assured media that after a weeks working on final tie in RLNG would be flowing to gas grid by the first week of May.

But it has been gathered that a small section of sub-sea pipeline which FSRU owner engaged sub contractor built was found leaking. The leakage was identified late and there had been relentless struggle for remedying this defect defying inclement weather and turbulent ocean condition.

Two companies of Petrobangla RPGCL and Gas Transmission Company Limited (GTCL) are involved in LNG import and RLNG evacuation process. RPGCL manages LNG import and looks after LNG re-gasification that would be done by FSRU owner and operator. GTCL would evacuate RLNG and would receive metered gas at custody transfer metering station (CTMS) at Moheshkhali. GTCL completed Moheshkhali -Anowara 90 KM 30 Inches OD gas transmission pipeline, city gate station (CGS) at Anowara and spur line connecting Anowara CGS to Chattogram city ring main operated by Karnaphuli Gas Distribution Company Limited (KGDCL).

In present arrangement it is possible evacuation of 200-250 MMCFD RLNG any time. GTCL off course is struggling with its 42 inches OD Anowara-Faujdarhat gas transmission pipeline without which RLNG can not fed to national gas grid and evacuation of 500 MMCFD RLNG would be delayed .Questions have been raised about competence of horizontal directional drilling (HDD) river crossing contractors competence for Karnaphuli river crossing .

RPGCL in its part have so far failed to ensure its contractor Excelerate Energy Bangladesh Limited completing all upstream connections. Exceelerate is obligated to supply RLNG of desired quality and specification at the upstream of GTCL Moheshkhali CTMS. Gas transmission pipelines operated at 1000 PSIG and above are built to American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) B31.8 code or equivalent standard .Bangladesh gas safety rule also adopted ASME B31.8 as guiding standard. All connections of buried pipelines have to be 100% welded and radiographed.

The pipeline needs to be hydrostatically tested (Leak test and tightness test) in presence of the representative of Chief Inspector of Explosives in Bangladesh. The pipeline section under reference has two flanged connections having metallic gas kits. RPGCL is definitely involved in all this process.

Now the defective pipeline section delaying RLNG supply is a manifestation of incompetence and negligence of works. 500 MMCFD LNG by December 2017 or May 2018 could have comforted gas crisis significantly. Gas users would not have to suffer immensely in the last Ramadan. Economy could be extremely benefitted.

This system is built for at least 25-30 years. We must not live with any defective section of the pipeline. Would recommend looking into the matter professionally and going by international and national requirements strictly. Statutory body Chief Inspector of Explosives must authenticate commissioning of the system in accordance with the provision of gas safety rule.

Saleque Sufi is an eminent energy expert.

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