Chevron to invest more in Bangladesh to tap gas

U.S. oil company Chevron , which has invested more than $1 billion in Bangladesh to explore natural gas, said on Tuesday it would make further investment as the government has asked it to raise production.

Chevron is currently producing about 1,000 million cubic feet (mmcft) of gas each day from its three Bangladesh fields, but the authorities want it to produce 500 mmcft more, said Geoffrey Strong, president of Chevron in Bangladesh. He did not say how much more the firm would invest.

“So far we have invested more than $1 billion in Bangladesh and want to increase the investment,” Strong told a meeting of the American Chamber of Commerce in Bangladesh (Amcham).

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“U.S. Geological Survey suggests there are potentials to explore up to 32 trillion cubic feet of gas (TCF) in the country that needed tens billions of dollar in investment,” he said.

As of now, Bangladesh has proven gas reserves of 7.3 trillion cubic feet (tcf) and probable reserves of 5.5 tcf that, officials and experts say, would be fully exhausted by the year of 2015 at the present rate of consumption.

So, the country needs to tap more gas from the existing and newly explored fields on land and at the sea to avert a massive energy vacuum that could cripple gas-fired industries and shut power stations.

Strong said Bangladesh’s state-run energy firm Petrobangla had asked Chevron to raise natural gas production by 500 mmcft a day by next year to offset the present shortages.

“We are working on it and will increase output from three of our producing gas fields.”

Bangladesh at present produces about 2,000 mmcft gas a day against demand of more than 2,500 mmcft a day, energy officials said.

Chevron is currently producing almost half the country’s total gas production, they said.

“It is good news that Chevron will invest further to augment gas production,” said Aftab-ul Islam, president of Amcham.

Hundreds of industrial and manufacturing companies have been shut or unable to start production since 2009 due to gas shortages, affecting national economic growth, Islam said.

Chevron is now constructing a new pipeline compressor station at Muchai, near Sylhet, 300 kilometres (188 miles) from Dhaka, and will drill 18 wells to increase gas production over the next year, Chevron and Petrobangla officials said.