Ignoring the growing demand for empowering BAPEX, the state-owned gas and oil corporation, the government has now moved to award Russian firm Gazprom the job of drilling the country’s four gas wells, energy experts alleged.
These gas wells are Bakhrabad-10, Rashidpur-9 and 10 and 12 Srikail-4.
The Energy Division on Sunday in a letter, which was signed by Deputy Secretary Jogendra Nath Sarkar, to the Cabinet Purchase Committee suggested that the work on gas well drilling be approved for the Russian oil and gas giant.
Experts criticized the government move and said the government had not paid heed to the demand for BAPEX capacity building. It’s playing a facilitator’s role for merely foreign companies, they said.
Prominent economist Prof Anu Muhammaed told the Daily Observer on Wednesday: “The government has turned a blind eye to the state-owned companies. Just for minting money, government officials are interested to provide gas wells to foreign companies. Bapex has a reputation to drill gas well onshore, so why Gazprom has been given the drilling job.”
Some dishonest officials are influencing the government hierarchy to give the potential gas blocks to international oil companies (IOCs), he further said.
A BAPEX official claimed that this state entity has a track record of successes in exploration, compared to the IOCs. “Its cost of discovery is also relatively lower,” he said.
However, BAPEX Mamaging Director Atikuzzaman said, “The higher authorities took the decision to award the drilling job to Gazprom, not BAPEX.”
Records show the Russian company was earlier awarded the job of drilling 10 gas wells under Rapid Power and Energy Supply Act in 2010 without floating any tender.
Meanwhile, in a span of six years stretching from 2009 to 2014, procurement of three new modern drilling rigs made BAPEX fully equipped to implement exploration and development of wells, but those rigs remained unutilised.
When the attention of the BAPEX boss was drawn to the matter, he said, “Yes, our rigs are now sitting idle but we a plan to use them”. As per contract with Gazprom, the cost of drilling a well would be Tk 150 crore. per well. On completion of the drilling of four wells, 30 crore cubic feet gas will be added to the national grid.
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