Implementation of Single Point Mooring (SPM) project in Chattagram will face further delay due to absence of Chinese workers who got stuck in their own country following coronavirus outbreak.
According to official sources, some 200 Chinese worker who were supposed to come to Bangladesh for the project work have been stuck in their mainland following the outbreak of the deadly disease in December last year. China first reported the outbreak of coronavirus in December last year which has so far infected 3,916,337 people and claimed 270, 711 lives globally.
“As a result, our work has been slowed down and we could not progress much as per our work plan”, Sharif Hasanat, Project Director of the SPM of Bangladesh Petrolerum Corporation (BPC), told UNB.
“So far 45 percent of the work have been completed and we were expecting to complete the 100 percent work by August 2021”, said Sharif Hasan, adding that a proposal was sent to the planning ministry seeking further time extension of the project.
He noted that the construction of the undersea pipeline is almost completed and the work of the other components of the project including the construction of oil tanks were in progress.
“But coronavirus pandemic put us in a big trouble as neither the Chinese workers nor the local workers are being able to join the work as per our plan”, he said.
BPC Chairman Shamsur Rahman also admitted that the coronavirus outbreak slowed down the project works.
SPM was one of the top priority projects of the Energy Division as the project will substantially save the cost of fuel transportation.
The SPM project was undertaken by the BPC to transport imported raw petroleum to state-owned Eastern Refinery in Chattogram in order to reduce the transportation cost of petroleum fuel and also ensure prompt direct unloading from the deep sea vessels.
BPC officials said the project was originally taken up in 2012 and after long time of official process, the government award the contract of the project to Chinese company China Petroleum Pipeline Bureau (CPP).
The BPC signed a contract with the CPP on December 7, 2016 to implement the ‘SPM with Double Pipeline’ project by December 2019 at cost of $550.40 million.
At present, large vessels carrying crude oil are anchored in the deep sea and state-owned BPC uses some lighterage vessels to transport imported raw petroleum to state-owned Eastern Refinery Limited (ERL) in Chattogram.
Under the SPM project, a total of 220-km pipeline will be installed in the Bay of Bengal to transport imported crude and refined oil.
As per the deal, Chinese state-run CPP is supposed to implement the project as EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) in the next 36 months from the signing of the agreement.
Explaining the necessity of the project, State Minister for Power and Energy Nasrul Hamid said it will help save Tk 1,000 crore a year as there will be no need to use lighterage vessels to transport the raw petroleum.
He said the SPM could be effectively used by the private sector importers as well.
BPC officials said the project is being implemented with the Chinese financial support.
They said that of the total cost of the project of Tk 5426.26 crore, the Chinese Exim Bank will finance Tk 4293.12 crore and the Bangladesh government will provide Tk 1021.19 crore and the remaining Tk 111.95 will be invested by BPC from its own fund.
ERL currently refines 1.5 million tonnes of crude petroleum annually. On completion of the unit -2, its capacity will increase to 4.5 million tonnes.
The SPM will have an annual unloading capacity of 9 million. It will be able to unload 120,000 tonnes of crude oil in 48 hours and 70,000 tonnes of diesel in 28 hours.
Officials said increasing the capacity to process crude oil to meet the increased demand of the country, construction of a tank at Maheshkhali in Cox’s Bazar as an emergency oil storage backup and increasing finished product storage facilities to ensure energy security of the country are also among the main purposes of the SPM project.
Officials said the SPM project will have supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) & Communication System and also includes construction of three crude oil tanks (each of net capacity 50,000 m³), three HSD tanks (each of net capacity 30,000 m³), main pumps, booster pumps and other pumps, installation of generator for power supply, housing facilities, administration and other buildings, pigging system, custody metering system, security system and firefighting system.