South-western gas pipeline work unlikely before January

Installation of 864-kilometre gas distribution pipeline in the country’s south-western region is unlikely to start before January next year as the “Southwest Region Gas Distribution Network Project” has been facing delay in the approval process.The project was undertaken by the Energy Ministry covering five districts
— Kushtia, Jhenidah, Jessore, Khulna and Bagerhat (including Mongla).
Official sources said that as per original plan of the government, some part of the project was supposed to be completed by 2012.
“The reality is that the physical works of the project has not yet begun,” said an Energy Ministry official blaming procedural complexity for the inordinate delay.
He informed that the project’s cost was proposed to be increased by 13 percent considering the inflation and soaring prices of different materials. A revised DPP (development project proposal) was placed to the Planning Ministry with the increased cost for approval.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is providing financial support to the scheme under its “Natural Gas Access Improvement Project.”
“Supplying gas to power plants and industries in south-western districts is the main objective of the project,” said Nurul Islam, managing director of the Sundarban Gas Company Limited (SGCL).
The SGCL was formed in November 2009 with the objective to supply gas to 16 south-western districts — 10 in Khulna division and 6 in Barisal division including Bhola.
The project covers different areas from Bheramara to Bagerhat with different sizes of gas distribution lines from 2-inch dia to 20-inch dia, said a senior official at the Energy Ministry.
He informed that the ADB signed a contract in 2010 to provide the required fund for the project and subsequently a number of foreign firms were appointed to implement the project.
The official said that the donor agency is providing US$266 million for the “Bangladesh Natural Gas Access Improvement Project” of which “Southwest Region Gas Distribution Network Project” is a component.
Some other components of the project include gas transmission line, drilling wells at gas fields and setting up gas compressors.
As per the project profile, around 200,000 new households in the southwest, along with 1,400 industrial and commercial establishments and power plants will receive gas under the distribution network expansion project.
About the progress of the Southwest Region Gas Distribution Network
Project, a top official of the SGCL, the project implementing agency, said that imported pipes for the project have started reaching Mongla port.
“We’re hopeful of receiving all the imported pipes for the project within next few months,” he said.
The SGCL official, however, said they cannot move forward with the project until the revised DPP is approved by the Planning Ministry. “Some local contractors will have to be appointed for the project once the DPP is approved,” he added.
Meanwhile, Power Ministry officials said they have taken a number of power plant projects with the hope of timely implementation of the Southwest Region Gas Distribution Network Project.
They informed that 5-6 power plant projects including a 360 MW plant in
Bheramara, and 100 and 150 MW projects in Khulna were planned to be built at different locations in the south western region.
“Implementation of these gas-fired new power plant projects in the region absolutely depends on the completion of gas pipeline project”, said a Power Ministry official. UNB

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