‘Challenges of hydrocarbon exploration and mining in Bangladesh’
Development of petroleum and mining sectors are fundamental to a healthy growth of energy and power sectors, the main drivers of the economic development of a nation. In both counts Bangladesh falls short of its true potentials. The country is yet to unearth its true natural gas prospects. Also a significant coal reserve based in the north Bengal remains undeveloped. A robust petroleum and mining development program and a qualified national work force may significantly change if not reverse the notion of almost total dependence on imported fuels in the next decade as envisaged in the master plan. Considering the growth of gas demand it is reasonable to suggest that the country will run out of its present gas reserves in a decade. However, geological interpretations suggest that significant gas resources are yet to be discovered in the country in the onshore and offshore areas. Bangladesh has not reached a mature stage of petroleum exploration and all of its gas discoveries are found in simple conventional plays i.e. anticlinal traps in the eastern fold belt in the country. There remains an area of untapped gas plays known as stratigraphic plays which are theoretically distributed all over the country but hardly explored. Furthermore the unconventional plays like thin bed plays, synclinal plays, tight sand plays, over-pressured plays are areas which have very good geological prospects but little explored. Some of these kind of prospects are proven by the successes in adjacent Tripura state of India which is geologically same as eastern Bangladesh. The offshore Bangladesh is the least explored area. The Indian part of the Bay to the west of Bangladesh sea and the Myanmar part to the east, both have registered significant gas discoveries in the last ten years. Specially the Rakhain offshore basin of Myanmar lying adjacent to the south eastern offshore area of Bangladesh has large and recent gas successes. Considering the fact that the offshore Rakhain Basin and SE offshore Bangladesh belong to single geological entity, gas prospects in the Bangladesh part should be equally bright. The above discussion leads to the conclusion that the remaining gas prospects of Bangladesh has been underplayed at recent time. On the other hand the planning and implementation to build up infrastructures and logistics for costly LNG have been overly played. It is understood that import of LNG to tackle the running gas crisis is justified in the face of no alternative available immediately. But the merit of planning major dependence on imported and costly LNG for a long term is certainly questionable. This will inevitably give the economy a major shock as the power and industrial products generated will be costly and may not be sustainable. Bangladesh has significant mineable coal reserves stored in four coal fields in the north Bengal. The total in situ coal amounts to an estimated 2000 million tonnes in these coal fields. Only one coal field, Barapukuria has been developed and produces coal at an annual rate of 1 million tonne per year. Because of the fact that the coal fields lie underneath fertile agricultural land in a thickly populated area and the fact that inherent hydrological problem make open cast mining difficult, the present government’s stand of not to develop open cast mining seems reasonable. But these coal fields may be developed by underground mines. The recovery of coal by underground mining may be optimized by state of art technology. This will certainly reduce the dependence on imported fuels and will promote self reliance make better economic sense. At the same time developing a dedicated national expert work force to take the challenges of petroleum and mining development activities is vitally important. Expanding and increasing the institutional capabilities are prerequisite to achieve that goal. Dr. Badrul Imam is an energy expert and professor of Geology of Dhaka University.
Coal as a primary source of energy towards energy security of Bangladesh
State-owned Geological Survey of Bangladesh (GSB) entrusted with the responsibilities of deciphering the geology of the country, exploring geological resources (except oil and gas), all sorts of geological and geophysical mapping, environment and urban geology and geo-hazard studies. Important geological resources discovered by GSB are Coal. Limestone, Hard Rock, White Clay, Glass Sand, Peat, Heavy Minerals and Construction Aggregates (sand and gravel). Coal Reserve of Bangladesh GSB played an important role in the coal discovery of the country through systemic survey. Coal reserve of the country are listed in the following Table. Table: Coal Reserve of Bangladesh Table: Quality of Coal in Bangladesh The coal is low sulfur bituminous coal. Gross calorific value between 11,000-12,500 (btu/lb) Silent Features of Coal in the World Coal is actively mined in 70 nations, with 85% consumed within the country in which it is produced. Only 15% of coal is traded internationally. The ability to readily transport coal by ship, barge, rail and truck, without the need for pipeline infrastructure, contributes to coal’s supply stability. Coal also has the unique advantage of being able to be stored on-site, providing weeks or even months of fuel supply at the power plant. This important characteristic contributes to grid reliability, resiliency and reduces fuel supply bottlenecks. Most of the world’s coal exports originate from countries which are considered to be politically stable, including the U.S., reducing the risk of supply interruptions. Consider, by contrast, that over 53% of the world`s natural gas reserves are controlled by Russia, Iran and Qatar, while more than 50% of the world’s oil reserves are located in the Middle East. Coal provides 30% of global primary energy. It is used to generate 41% of global electricity. It is also used to produce 68% of the world`s steel and is a key source of energy in energy-intensive industries, such as aluminum and cement production. Use of Coal in Power Generation Coal is widely used in the power generation worldwide. Coal based power plants provide over 42% of global electricity supply. There are 400 coal-powered electric plants are present in the United States. As the world prepares for the Paris climate change talks later this year, moving to renewable sources of energy is a key part of many countries’ plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, in 2012, 40.4% of all electricity production worldwide still came from coal. China produces the most electricity from coal by a long margin-3,785 TWh, more than twice as much as the US in second place. India, Japan and Germany complete the top five. Bangladesh has only one Barapukuria coal-based power plant in Dinajpur. Prospect in Bangladesh using coal as the source of energy With the looming gas crisis, Bangladesh is gradually shifting its primary energy focus from gas to coal. The government is taking full-fledged efforts to identify cheaper and more reliable alternatives like coal. Government has a plan to produce 20,000MW of electricity by 2021 as per Vision 2021. Bangladesh has only Barapukuria coal-based power plant in Dinajpur having 250 MW capacity (two units). Third unit of Barapukuria coal-based power plant in Dinajpur is underway to add 275 MW to the national grid by 2018. The Rampal power station is a proposed 1320 MW coal-fired power station at Rampal Upazila of Bagerhat District in Khulna, Bangladesh. The Matarbari Power Plant is a proposed 1,200 MW coal-based power plant to be built in Moheskhali Upazila of Cox’s Bazar District. The Payra Power Plant is a proposed 1,320 MW coal-based power plant to be built in Kalapara Upazila of Patuakhali District. Bangladesh has sufficient and proven reserve of coal especially in Northern parts of Bangladesh which is around 3 Billion Ton equivalents to heating capacity 37 TCF gas. With the present reserve Bangladesh can produce- 250 MW electricity daily require yearly 0.65 million tones of coal to run a Thermal Power Plant 5000 MW electricity daily require yearly 13 million tones of coal to run a Thermal Power Plant 25% recovery from Barapukuria, Phulbari, Khalashpir and Dighipara coal fields 562 million ton of coal can produce 5000 MW of electricity daily for about 44 years 562 million ton of coal can produce 10000 MW of electricity daily for about 22 years. Advantage of Coal is as source of energy The reasons are listed below: Cheapest source of energy. It is by far cheaper than nuclear, natural gas, oil. Coal also provides a stable source of energy (no Arab oil embargoes, no sudden scarcity like you experience with natural gas) Coal provides many jobs. Unlike other forms of energy (nuclear, natural gas, oil, hydroelectric), coal provides many jobs in removing coal from the earth, transporting it to the utility, burning it, and properly disposing of coal ash. Coal can be mined and burned with little environmental impact. There has been tremendous strides in environmental responsibility with mining coal and burning coal. Coal energy is an affordable energy source because of the coal’s stable price compared to other fuel sources Coal is easy to burn Coal produces high energy upon combustion. Improvements in the Efficiency of Coal based Power Plants Supercritical and Ultra supercritical Technology New pulverized coal combustion systems – utilizing supercritical and ultra-supercritical technology – operate at increasingly higher temperatures and pressures and therefore achieve higher efficiencies than conventional PCC units and significant CO2 reductions. Supercritical steam cycle technology has been used for decades and is becoming the system of choice for new commercial coal-fired plants in many countries. Research and development is under way for ultra-supercritical units operating at even higher efficiencies, potentially up to around 50%. The introduction of ultra-supercritical technology has been driven over recent years in countries such as Denmark, Germany and Japan, in order to achieve improved plant efficiencies and reduce fuel costs. Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) An alternative to achieving efficiency improvements in conventional pulverized coal-fired power stations is through the use of gasification technology. IGCC plants use a gasified to convert coal (or other carbon-based materials) to syngas, which drives a combined cycle turbine. Fluidised Bed Combustion Fluidized Bed Combustion (FBC) is a very flexible method of electricity production – most combustible material can be burnt including coal, biomass and general waste. FBC systems improve the environmental impact of coal-based electricity, reducing SOx and NOx emissions by 90%. Pulverized coal combustion systems Producing electricity in coal power plants can take place in a number of ways with varying degrees of efficiency. In conventional coal-fired plants coal is first pulverized into a fine powder and then combusted at temperatures of between 13000C to 17000C. This Technology accounts for 97% of World Coal plants with more than 40 percent efficiency. Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology can capture up to 90% of the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions produced from the use of fossil fuels in electricity generation and industrial processes, preventing the carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere. Furthermore, the use of CCS with renewable biomass is one of the few carbon abatement technologies used in a `carbon-negative` mode actually taking CO2 out of the atmosphere. Way Forward-Opportunities and Hopes New technologies with time eco-friendly mining could be possible even at greater depth. Coal bed Methane Underground Coal Gasification Improvements in the efficiency of coal-fired power plants can be achieved with technologies Coal Bed Methane (CBM) CBM is a form of natural gas extracted from coal beds. In recent decades it has become an important source of energy in United States, Canada, Australia, and other countries. The term refers to methane adsorbed into the solid matrix of the coal. It is called `sweet gas` because of its lack of hydrogen sulfide. The presence of this gas is well known from its occurrence in underground coal mining, where it presents a serious safety risk. Coal bed methane is distinct from a typical sandstone or other conventional gas reservoir, as the methane is stored within the coal by a process called adsorption. India’s Director General of Hydrocarbon has approved the drilling of more than 100 CBM wells that cover the next four years will involve total investment of $150 million. India’s CBM reserve estimated at 16 TCF. Underground Coal Gasification Underground coal gasification (UCG) is an industrial process which converts coal into product gas. UCG is an in-situ gasification process carried out in non-mined coal seams using injection of oxidants, and bringing the product gas to surface through production wells drilled from the surface. Only in the case of the Soviet Union in the 1960s was UCG pushed forward into full production at a handful of plants in remote areas. Only one plant in Uzbekistan continues to operate. In the rest of the world sporadic attempts at testing of UCG over the last few decades have generally ended very badly. 24 UCG licenses approved around Britain Swansea Bay likely to be site of first tests. Conclusion Presently, innovations of new technologies and eco-friendly management of resources create opportunities to develop these earth resources in Bangladesh in win-win situation with the community for the betterment of the economy of the country as well as society through generation of direct and indirect employment Coal is the cheapest and most abundant source of energy. Unlike with natural gas or oil, there is very little chance of coal being scarce as it is plentiful all over the world. Coal reserves are estimated to be around a million tons and is expected to be available for consumption for the next 200 years. Because of its high reserve, low costs, coal can be the main primary energy source of Bangladesh towards energy security, countries like India, South Africa, China, Philippines. Reshad Md. Ekram Ali, Director General of Geological Survey of Bangladesh