Four global state-owned cos seek gas tie-ups with Bapex
JVs to produce gas at 4 gas fields and conduct drilling in CHT
M. Azizur Rahman
Top state-owned global oil giants have lined up to tie up with Bapex to develop four Bangladeshi gas fields and explore hydrocarbon in the Chittagong Hill Tracts region, officials said Saturday.
The firms — Chinese Cnooc and Sinopac Shingli, Thai PTTEP and Russian Gazprom -are interested to strike joint venture deals with the lone Bangladeshi state-owned exploration company to make a foothold in the country.
“Bapex made the invitation to the companies and they have already responded positively as they are convinced of the prospects of the four gas fields and potentials for new discoveries in the CHT,” an official said.
Bapex officials said some executives of the companies have visited the country and held primary negotiations. “We hope we can conclude talks as soon as possible and start exploration and development work,” he said.
The four companies are cash rich and won’t be shy of exploring gas in the restive CHT region where a slow-burning insurgency left 2,500 people killed since 1980s, another official said.
Although the government has signed a peace treaty with the main rebel group in 1997, private energy firms scouring oil and gas in the country have largely stayed out of the region for security region.
“Unlike the private firms, the state-owned companies won’t be sensitive to conducting exploration in the CHT. We can avoid time-consuming tender procedures if we strike deals with them,” the official added.
Top officials from Russian Gazprom and Thai PTTEP have recently visited the country and held talks with Petrobangla and state-owned Bapex over scopes to strike joint venture deals.
The visit follows after Bapex formally sent invitation letters to the state- owned firms to develop and produce natural gas from four potential onshore gas structures and the CHT region.
Malaysia’s state-owned Petronas, India’s Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), Chinese CNPC are also among the firms invited for the joint venture talks.
The four gas fields that Bapex put up for joint venture deals are Kotia, Joldi, Kafalong, Shitapara – all situated in gas block number 22 in greater Chittagong region. It spans over 13,900 square kilometers area.
Officials said the planned tie-ups will strengthen the country’s sole oil and gas exploration firm, which produces only 58 million cubic feet of gas daily (mmcfd) contributing less than three per cent of the national gas output.
In the past two decades since its inception in 1989, Bapex could produce gas from only three fields. Its exploration activities largely remained frozen earlier last decade due to lack of rigs.
Bapex has now only one joint venture with Canadian Niko Resources. Together, they developed Feni gas field but production remained suspended because of payment dispute. They also made some drilling work in Chhatak.