How to address the issues of Natural resources and energy crisis

Md Rezaul Karim By Md Rezaul Karim, 1st Jan 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Columns & Opinions

Bangladesh has limited natural resources, which are not planned or managed optimally, again the vested interest groups are lurking in the horizon for their own interests!

Energy crisis and way out efforts

There are appears to be a sustained campaign to weaken the capacity of state-run institutions to explore oil, gas and other mineral resources in the country, and the government seems to overtly and covertly taking part in it. According to a report published in New Age on Saturday, the energy ministry is trying to grab control of the Gas Development Fund, formed by the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission, to enhance the capacity of state-run oil and gas exploration and production companies. The fund, created by BERC in 2009 through a gas price hike, is estimated to be worth Tk 717.30 crore in a year, and is likely to increase by more than Tk 1,000 crore in a year or two. The ministry is now planning to create a separate fund under its jurisdiction, incorporating the GDF. According to the report, this will not only thwart the objectives of the GDF due to red-tapism in its release and utilization and keep the country dependent on foreign companies, but is also a violation of the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission Act 2003, which stipulates that the government cannot interfere in any directive issued by the BERC.
Much has been said in recent years about the penchant of subsequent governments to hand over control of oil and gas exploration sites to foreign companies, despite the state-run Petrobangla and its subsidiaries’ visible capacity to explore the country’s resources on its own. Its is noteworthy that the most of the accidents that have taken place on exploration sites in the country, have been under the control of foreign companies, while Petrobangla still operates devoid of any such blemish. Moreover, foreign companies have been awarded exploration rights under extremely controversial Production Sharing Contracts (PSCs), which have allowed the companies to export the majority share’s of the country’s gas supply. There have also been very serious allegations of corruption of top government officials in the dealings with foreign exploration companies, both in the tenure of the present AL-led government as well as the BNP-led alliance government. And yet, the government not only continues to hand over exploration rights to foreign companies under controversial circumstances, such as the recent awarding of two blocks in the Bay of Bengal to US company ConocoPhilips, but there also appears to be a covert mission to weaken Petrobangla and its subsidiaries such as Bangladesh Petroleum Exploration and Production Company Limited (BAPEX), whether it be through dispensing with needs to strengthen the Bangladesh Petroleum Institute, a training institute to build national capacity on petroleum exploration, or by making access to the Gas Development Fund more difficult.
The energy ministry’s intervention also indicates to a trend that appears to have taken hold in recent times - that of the government diverting and curtailing the power of various independent commissions in the country, established to make various sectors more productive and efficient. The Anti-Corruption lost its rights to directly investigate government officers while the Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission lost its power to issue and renew licenses of cellular phone companies, to the telecommunications ministry. Not only does this trend beat the purpose of having such commissions, but it also lacks justification as to why the government feels bureaucrats are in a better position to make decisions on technical issues, ahead of people with specific expertise in those fields. The answer could very well be that top government officials are not just keen on grabbing more power, but also want access to the financial resources available. That, in return, raises doubts over the actual intent of such moves, which could very well lead to corruption, besides the obvious red-tapism. The government would be well-advised to check such trends and instead concentrate on building the capacity of state-run institutions.
The recent political unrest, constitutional amendments, undue influencing of the Justice system, police’s harshest behavior all are something related to the same garland. All are well planned and elusive acts or vested parties.
On the other hand UK expert stresses need for cleaner technology for coal power in Bangladesh:
Bangladesh needs to adopt cleaner technology to harness power from coal so that climate change impact does not turn for the worse in the country, according to a visiting UK official. Speaking in an interview with few journalists, John Ashton, special representative of the UK foreign secretary, said that while power is required for development, it would be wrong to exclude coal. But at the same time pollution must be taken into consideration. ‘There are two ways. Either to stop using coal or apply technology to reduce pollution,’ he elaborated.
The government can ask its development partners to finance the use of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology in the coal-fired power plants, he suggested. Bangladesh, a gas-starved country, is looking for alternative options, including coal, to produce power. ‘Agencies like the World Bank or DFID can help pay the additional expenses for the CCS technology,’ Ashton said.
The British diplomat stressed that political consensus to combat climate change. ‘The climate change will affect everybody and in this issue all the political parties should work together to formulate policies,’ he said.


Bangladesh, Coal, Electricity Production, Gas, Natural Resources, Oil, Resource Extraction

Meet the author

author avatar Md Rezaul Karim
I am a teacher engaged with the Southern University Bangladesh. I Like to use my spare time by writing and reading. I take it as a fun and source of inspiration in pursuing knowledge.

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author avatar Buzz
1st Jan 2012 (#)

Always great, Md. Wonderful post.

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author avatar Md Rezaul Karim
2nd Jan 2012 (#)

Thanks Buzz.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
2nd Jan 2012 (#)

Good to highlight the excesses, Karim. Bangla Desh is one of the countries that will bear the harshest brunt of climate change. You have to stay united to forstall its effects in every possible way. You should have good potential for wind power and later solar, when it comes of age - siva

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author avatar Md Rezaul Karim
3rd Jan 2012 (#)

Correct Sivaramakrishnan. Thank you very much Sir. Bad luck is we do not have good leaders.

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author avatar Ivyevelyn, R.S.A.
5th Jan 2012 (#)

Thank you again, Md. Your leaders were put in place by the population on promises which they subsequently broke. They were probably taking bribes before election and they knew they could not keep their promises. I wonder if that is the case, just like over here.

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