The Bibiyana gas field in Habiganj now contributes to more than half of the country’s total daily gas production.
Even, the production volume exceeds its capacity when the demand surges.
In the aftermath, the gas reserve in the field has already depleted by 95 per cent, while the remaining stock is anticipated to run out within a year if the current production trend persists.
Experts, against such a backdrop, have warned that there might be a massive disaster in the gas supply if the gas field runs out of stock soon.
Amidst the ongoing gas crisis, the country has witnessed a falling trend in production in the three largest gas fields – Titas in Brahmanbaria, Kailastila in Sylhet, and Rashidpur in Habiganj.
The experts blamed the energy and mineral resources division’s negligence and inefficiency for the production slump.
The authorities have geared up gas production in the Bibiyana field, though it has a lower reserve. In contrast, they do not have the required technical skills and technology to scale up production at the site with abundant stock of natural gas.
There are a total of 28 active gas fields in the country. The Bangladesh Gas Field Company Limited (BGFCL) extracts gas from the largest Titas gas field, while Sylhet Gas Field Limited (SGFL) extracts gas in Kailastila and Rashidpur fields. They all are state-run entities.
Chevron Bangladesh, the local chapter of US-based multinational company Chevron Corporation, produces the largest amount of gas from Bibiyana, even though the field ranks fourth in terms of gas reserves.
According to Petrobangla and the energy and mineral resource division’s hydrocarbon unit, the Bibiyana gas field has a production capacity of 1,200 million cubic feet per day.
Currently, the daily production at the site exceeds 1,100 million cubic feet from 26 wells. The authorities installed larger diameter pipes in the wells to boost production in 2021.
The gas field had a gas storage of 254 BCF (billion cubic feet) until March this year. Around 120 BCF has been extracted in the last four months, with an average extraction rate of 30 BCF per month. The remaining stock is projected to be slightly over 130 BCF.
The gas field is expected to run out of stock within four months if the current trend of gas extraction continues. Experts believe that the production rate will gradually go down at the site, while the reserve is likely to be completely exhausted by 2025.
Sheikh Zahidur Rahman, spokesperson of Chevron Bangladesh, said they are using global expertise in reserve management to meet the current gas demands. They are also working to explore the production possibilities.
Hope for more gas reserve
The authorities had initially estimated the Bibiyana gas field’s reserve at 8,383 BCF during discovery, while the recoverable reserve was at 5,755 BCF. Around 5,501 BCF of gas has already been extracted from the field by March this year.
Officials of Petrobangla said the gas reserve was estimated a long time ago. Chevron Bangladesh has extended its contract to operate the Bibiyana gas field until 2034 and is planning to enhance the reserve through new well drilling to meet the mounting demand.
The company could not provide any specific figure for gas reserves.
However, Petrobangla chairman Zanendra Nath Sarker ruled out the claim of imminent gas reserve exhaustion at Bibiyana, saying that it is inaccurate information and is being rectified. They are now collecting information again about the reserves. Besides, different measures are being taken to maintain the production levels.
Interest in LNG Imports
The 9 August marks the national energy security day. It is being observed with the theme of “Smart Bangladesher Prottay Jalani Sasray,” though there are no noticeable measures to curb gas consumption.
Bangladesh has witnessed a decline in gas production since 2018, which prompted the authorities to go for liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports to bridge the deficit.
Noted geologist Badrul Imam voiced concerns over the gas exhaustion as the government reports asserted the gas stock depletion.
Gas production will go down on a large scale in the future. There will be no other choice if drilling of new wells does not ensure more gas reserves. Thus, overreliance on a single gas field may cause suffering, he said.
The geologist further added that the authorities could have boosted production from the top three largest gas fields, but they are now focused on importing LNG.