Energy-starved Bangladesh has discovered a new gas field in the southeastern part of the country with the possibility of a significant amount of fossil fuel in reserves, officials said Wednesday.
They said the gas structure in the country's Noakhali district, some 158 km southeast of capital Dhaka, has been discovered by the state-run Bangladesh Petroleum Exploration Company (BAPEX).
"Very soon we'll make a formal declaration on discovery of the gas field which lies in a depth of about 1,400 meters," BAPEX General Manager (Drilling), Amzad Hossain, told Xinhua Wednesday.
The official said they could not ascertain yet the amount of recoverable gas reserves in the new field as a thorough analysis and interpretation of the data has not been completed.
But he said it is estimated that a significant amount of natural gas remains in the field. "We'll now prepare for gas extraction from the gas field determined recently after a survey."
Gas from this field can be made available to southeastern Chittagong port city within one year if everything goes as per plan, he said. The total gas supply to country's second largest Chittagong city after capital Dhaka reportedly is now around 240 million cubic feet (mmcft) per day against demand of more than 300 mmcft a day.
"Production from the gas field will help our efforts to further improve gas situation in Chittagong and surrounding areas," BAPEX Managing Director Mortuza Ahmad Faruque said. The new gas field is unlikely to be very big although there is a possibility of significant amount of reserves, he said.
Over the last years Bangladesh's lone exploration company discovered 10 small to medium fields. The biggest field discovered by the BAPEX so far is in the country's Bhola, an offshore island with an area of 3403.48 sq km, about 205 km south of capital Dhaka, that has around 600 billion cubic feet reserves.
"We're trying our best to find more new gas fields to support the government's efforts to improve gas supply situation in the country," Faruque said.
Bangladesh has been facing an acute shortage of gas since 2008, resulting in production cuts in hundreds of factories through out the country.
Asian Development Bank in a recent statement said inadequate natural gas supplies and lack of diverse power sources have left the country with a large gap between electricity supply and demand, estimated at over 1,200 megawatts a day for 2011.
Bangladesh currently faces acute gas shortages, with production at around 2,000 mmcft from 23 gas fields per day against demand of more than 2,500 mmcft a day.
The country has reportedly proven recoverable gas reserves in the Bay of Bengal of more than 422.7 billion cubic meters, but some 60 percent of the amount has already been used. The South Asian nation of over 160 million people is in dire need of locating new sources of energy as its government forecasts that current gas reserves of the nation will run out in the next five years at the present consumption rate.
The country's State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Enamul Haque had earlier told Parliament House that the government has undertaken short, mid and long-term plans by giving importance to discover gas fields as well as gas extraction and distribution.