Monthly Archives: February 2009

Total discovers gas in sea off Bangladesh

Total discovers gas in sea off Bangladesh


French oil firm Total SA has discovered natural gas in an offshore field about 420 kilometres (263 miles) southeast from Dhaka, a Bangladesh official said yesterday.

“We have had confirmation from the firm about the presence of natural gas in two blocks which also covered an island in the sea,” said Mohammad Muqtadir Ali, a director at the state-run Bangladesh Oil, Gas and Mineral Corporation or Petrobangla.

“It is a great relief for us as the country at present is facing up to 250 million cubic feet (mmcf) of gas shortages a day,” Muqtadir told Reuters.

The firm said that both oil and gas might be there and was satisfied with the data they acquired through seismic survey, the official said.

The European oil giant Total spent nearly $20 million to conduct the three dimensional survey in those structures in the sea near the Myanmar border covering 18,367 square kilometres.

“If the acquired data matches the commercial viability, it will be one of the biggest natural gas discoveries (in the region) and if everything goes smoothly then production will be started by early 2012,” Muqtadir said.

Total, the operator of these two blocks holds a 30 percent share while Irish oil company Tullow owns 32 percent shares followed by Thai energy firm PTTEP with 30 percent. US companies Oakland and Rexwood hold the remaining shares.

Blocks 17 and 18 are close to Myanmar’s gas blocks where that country discovered around 6.0 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas.

Bangladesh with more than 13 tcf of gas reserves is currently producing about 1,800 mmcf of gas per day against the demand of more than 2,050 mmcfd.


Xian Zhu suggests export diversification to face global financial crisis

Xian Zhu suggests export diversification to face global financial crisis; He requests to incorporate environmental issues in proposed industrial policy

World Bank country director Xian Zhu yesterday suggested Bangladesh to emphasise on labour-intensive light engineering industries and diversify export to keep it away from current global financial crisis.

“I think Bangladesh should concentrate on labour-intensive light engineering industries and diversify export not depending only on readymade garments to face current global financial crisis,” Xian Zhu said while talking to Industries Minister Dilip Barua at his office last morning.

The WB country director pledged all-out cooperation to face global financial crisis if Bangladesh seeks any specific support.
He hoped Bangladesh might turn into a middle-income country before 2021 if it can utilise its cheap labour force through making them trained and skilled.

The WB country director requested the Industries Minister to incorporate environmental issues in the proposed ‘industrial policy’ so that sound environment is not hampered in the name of industrialisation.

Xian Zhu suggested the Industries Minister to take idea from the policies of neighbouring countries – Japan, China, Malaysia and Vietnam in formulating industrial policy for Bangladesh.

While discussing on the flow of FDI Xian Zhu said: “I think the procedure of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), especially land acquisition process, should be more simplified to attract investors.

Industries Minister Dilip Barua said the government is heading towards a comprehensive industrial policy for the expected industrial growth in the country.

“We need a modern industrial set up to ensure industrialisation and WB might provide technical support in this regard,” he said.

The Minister said the government has been working to develop the country into a middle-income one by 2021 and has taken preparation to formulate a coordinated industrial policy.

Emphasising on stable political situation the Minister said the government would try its best to ensure an industrial-friendly and stable political situation in next five years.

Korea to help Ruppur nuclear power plant, solar energy, coal extraction in Bangladesh

Korea to help Ruppur nuclear power plant, solar energy, coal extraction in Bangladesh

DHAKA, Bangladesh, Feb 24 (BSS) – Korean government is keen to provide assistance to Ruppur Nuclear Power Plant as well as solar energy and coal extraction to meet nation’s growing need of energy.

Ambassador of Republic of South Korea to Bangladesh Suk Bum Park expressed his country’s interest when he called on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban office here tonight.

During the meeting, they discussed matters of mutual interest especially trade and commerce relations between the two countries, the Prime Minister’s Press Secretary Abul Kalam Azad told reporters after the meeting.

Azad said, the Korean envoy also expressed interest to recruit more manpower from Bangladesh.

Referring to the Korean EPZ in Bangladesh, Park thanked the Prime Minister for providing export and business friendly atmosphere in the export processing zone that help to increase production in the factories owned by Koran entrepreneurs.

He conveyed the Korean president’s greetings to Sheikh Hasina for becoming the Prime Minister after her party’s landslide victory on December 29 general election and invited her to visit Korea with convenient time.

In response, the Prime Minister thanked the Korean president conveyed through the envoy for congratulating her as well as inviting to visit Korea.

The Korean ambassador expressed the hope that friendly relations between the two countries would further strengthen under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina in the days to come.

Secretary to the Prime Minister’s office Mollah Wahiduzzaman was present.

WB assisting govt to light up rural Bangladesh

WB assisting govt to light up rural Bangladesh


The World Bank is supporting a government initiative to increase rural people’s access to electricity through the Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Development (RERED) project.

Under this project, more than 520,000 consumers in rural areas have received electricity connections since January 2003.

The Rural Electrification Board (REB) has so far constructed and renovated about 19,500 km of electricity distribution lines, which has helped REB reduce its system loss. Electricity in rural areas is used mainly for domestic and rural market lighting, operating small and medium enterprises, irrigation pumps and sometimes industries.

The government has embarked on a renewable energy scheme to provide electricity to remote areas where grid expansion is either difficult or expensive. Through the Infrastructure Development Company Ltd (IDCOL), the project is promoting Solar Home Systems (SHS). A SHS uses solar panel to generate electricity from sunlight, which can then stored in a rechargeable battery. This battery allows a household to switch on 3 to 4 light bulbs and one black and white television for at least 4 hours a day. The SHS scheme has been a highly successful program. So far more than 250,000 SHSs have been installed in rural Bangladesh by IDCOL through various NGOs working as Partner Organizations (POs).

Among other renewable energy options, the project has supported a 250kW biomass power plant as a pilot project. This biomass power plant is now under operation and supplies electricity to more than 300 consumers. This plant uses rice husk as fuel to generate electricity.

The successful operation of this plant has generated interest among local sponsors and IDCOL has received many more project proposals to finance similar types of plants in rural areas.

IDCOL is now in the process of financing another small biogas power plant. Upon the success of these projects, IDCOL will be able to use these power plants to training, demonstrate and create awareness among the local investors.

This has the potential to open up a new era where areas isolated from the national grid could generate their own electricity based on biomass and biogas fuels.

The Bangladesh government has requested for additional financing to install an additional 300,000 SHSs under the project. In response to this request, an IDA team has recently conducted a preliminary analysis of the suitability of bank financing.

The bank team has discussed with government and IDCOL counterparts whether in addition to SHS, other renewable energy based power plants, using biomass or biogas should be included in the project scope. IDCOL’s interest to finance projects promoting energy efficiency and energy conservation was also discussed.

If documented properly, these projects can be used to attract carbon financing. The team is expected to carry out a detailed appraisal in March 2009 to mobilize additional resources to continue funding this highly successful program.

Bangladesh hopes to get big chunk of shipbuilding reconstruction works

Bangladesh hopes to get big chunk of shipbuilding reconstruction works

FE Report

Bangladeshi built ship. SOURCE: DailyStar

Bangladeshi built ship. SOURCE: DailyStar

Bangladesh has the opportunity to grab a huge shipbuilding reconstruction works worldwide as about 55 per cent ships with less than 500 TEU capacities (more than 20 years old) need to be replaced within the next two to five years.

“With recession taking its toll in every region of the world, we feel an urgent need to explore such opportunity after taking part in the recent SMM Istanbul Shipbuilding Fair, an internationally acclaimed event,” said a statement of Maritimus Limited, a local shipbuilding company funded by a group of London-based non-resident Bangladeshis (NRBs).

The company said with Maritimus showing the way, one can surely hope for a big chunk of that rewarding task to make its way into Bangladeshi hands in the years to come.

SMM Istanbul Fair was attended by personnel from some of the most prestigious companies across the globe.

Maritimus’ business models, organizational structures and compliance with international standards earned appreciation at the fair.

The company is in the process of signing MOU with a few international shipbuilding companies in order to engage in joint ventures, secure orders and attract international customers to its shipyard in Narayanganj.

The company also held meetings with the officials of Bangladesh Embassy in Turkey and the British Government.

The UK Trade & Investment has lent its support for the company, as this is an initiative of British-Bangladeshi entrepreneurs.

Chairman of the company Barrister A.M. Rafiqul Islam said: We can visualize Bangladeshi hands creating ocean-going vessels for the world’s biggest buyers in the very near future as the country has the adequate capacities.

Rahimafrooz eyes battery exports to rich nations

Rahimafrooz eyes battery exports to rich nations

Sayeda Akter

Rahimafrooz is set to double its annual automotive battery production capacity to reach 25 lakh units, designed to capture a market share in developed countries by May.

The Tk 110 crore project, Rahimafrooz Globatt Ltd, nears completion and is under the company’s global expansion plans.

“We are going to double our annual production capacities for automotive batteries by May. The product has been designed specially to capture the rich nation markets, including North America, Europe, Korea, Australia,” said Munawar Misbah Moin, group director of the company.

“This is the first-ever initiative of the company’s global expansion plan, under which we are producing batteries targeting the markets in developed countries,” he said.

Rahimafrooz is also going to start exporting the newly produced automotive batteries to those countries by June for the first time, said Munawar.

“The Global Expansion Plan was a result of our success in the export market,” he said. “Now we need concentrated initiatives to reach the mature global markets and grow to create global footprints,” he maintained.

The project received the country’s first-ever equity investment from Frontier Fund, a local partner of Brummer and Partners, Sweden’s largest hedge fund manager, in January to develop its automotive battery export business.

An equity fund is generally invested in firms by purchasing certain equity shares of those companies and sharing their profit with the investors. Investors can recover the fund only when the companies sell their shareholdings to other investors.

Thirty percent of the project cost has been raised from equity investments from Global Holdings Ltd and Brummer and Partners.

“We have established a world class manufacturing plant under the global strategic plan for our expansion plan,” he said.

Rahimafrooz Globatt Ltd, situated in Ishwardi EPZ, uses the latest technology including business software solution applications and services.

As many as 400 people have been employed in the project, an environment-friendly venture, Munawar said.

“After the first phase of the project, we dream to establish global plants, although it will not be an easy task under the existing rules and regulations set by the government,” said Munawar.

Currently, Rahimafrooz produces 12 lakh pieces of automotive batteries per year, which are used to meet the local demand and are exported to different countries.

Rahimafrooz was founded in 1954 by late AC Abdur Rahim. It started its journey as a small trading company, but over the decades, it has grown in size, scale, and diversification.

Currently, the group has seven operating companies, three other business ventures and a non-profit social enterprise.

Rahimafrooz is the pioneer in producing industrial batteries, solar power and IPS (instant power system) in the country. The company also spearheaded the export of batteries to more than 40 countries.

The new batteries will be suited to the needs of the developed nations and their markets.

Now the company exports batteries to 18 countries, including India and Singapore, on a regular basis, which is produced specially for the regional nations and their infrastructure.

Rahimafrooz has sales and distribution units in several Indian cities, including Ahmedabad, Delhi and Calcutta.

Tk 200 crore textile unit opens in Narayanganj

Tk 200 crore textile unit opens in Narayanganj

Chaity Group, a leading textile and garments manufacturing industry of the country has set up a composite textile unit at Sonargaon under the Narayanganj district.

The unit named as Chaity Composite Ltd built at the cost of Tk 200 crore was inaugurated by Managing Director of South-East Bank Neaz Ahmed in presence of foreign and local dignitaries on Thursday, said a press release.

Equipped with most modern European machinery, the textile unit has a production capacity of 40 tons per day.

The unit will produce fabrics of world class quality both for local and foreign markets and save a huge amount of hard- earned foreign currencies against import of fabrics every year, officials of Chaity group said.

In his speech, Neaz Ahmed said the launching of Chaity Composite Textile is a miles stone in the country’s fast-growing textile sector.

“This will reduce dependency on foreign fabrics and save a huge amount of foreign currencies every year”, he said.

Abul Kalam, Managing Director of the Chaity Group said Bangladesh is now competing in the world textile markets.

To face the challenge, it needs more such modern textile units that can produce international quality fabrics.

Later, the group celebrated its 18th founding anniversary through various programmes.