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Govt cut LNG import by half amid dollar crisis


DE Online Desk

The ongoing dollar crisis has forced the government to cut its import of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the international spot market by half. According to industry insiders, the cut in import has further deepened the ongoing gas crisis.
“Petrobangla had planned to import 48 LNG cargoes from January to December in 2023. But it could manage to import 22 LNG cargoes,” State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid told UNB.
He admitted that the dollar crisis has been the main reason behind reducing the import by half. “Actually the ongoing dollar crisis has become a big trouble for the power and energy sector,” he said adding that his ministry has been regularly negotiating with the central bank and the Finance Ministry to get adequate dollars to meet the payment in the energy and power sector against the imports.
“But we’re not getting an adequate supply of dollars to properly implement the import plan,” he said. Official sources said that the country has a shortage of more than 1500 million cubic feet of gas per day (MMCFD) against the overall demand for 4000 MMCFD.
The official data of Petrobangla, the state-owned upstream organisation in the gas sector, shows that the country produced 2445 MMCFD gas on December 14 (Thursday) including imported LNG (liquefied natural gas) against the demand of 4000 MMCFD.
It shows that the country is getting 361 MMCFD gas from imported LNG as imports witnessed a fall in recent months from a normal 800-900 MMCFD.
Officials of Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company Limited, which is responsible for gas supply to Dhaka and adjoining districts, said that they now receive 1400-1500 MMCFD gas against a demand for 1800 MMCFD meaning a shortage of 300-400 MMCFD gas.
They also said that the recent dollar crisis has forced Petrobangla to reduce its import of LNG which intensified the crisis in recent days. They feared that it is unlikely that Petrobangla would be able to increase the import of LNG or increase the production from local sources within the next few months as there is no assurance of ending the ongoing dollar crisis.
The country’s foreign exchange reserves declined to below $18 billion this year from $48 last year which put Petrobangla in trouble to get adequate dollars to pay its international suppliers against its purchase of LNG from the global market.
The country’s gas industry insiders said that the overall gas supply situation deteriorated in the winter with no visible sign of easing the dollar crisis. Many areas of the capital city Dhaka city have been hit by a gas shortage, causing problems for the consumers.
The situation may worsen in the coming days as no necessary measure is in sight to address the problem.

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