Abandoned seven years ago Sangu, the country’s first offshore gas field platform, can be used as a storage for imported liquefied natural gas (LNG) before being supplied to the end users, energy experts suggest.
According to the experts, the offshore platform has a strong potential to serve this purpose as many countries exploit such mechanism to reduce the cost.
“The Sangu platform should be utilised for this purpose with its subsea pipeline before its damage”, Prof. Dr. Ijaz Hossain, head of the Department of Chemical Engineering told UNB on Saturday.
“As the facility remains unutilised after investment of millions of dollars, the government can invite and allow interested firm to install FSRU and supply re-gasified LNG to end users through the existing pipeline with the platform,” he opined.
Sangu was the country’s maiden offshore gas field when it was discovered in 1996 in the Bay of Bengal, 50km away from the land near Silimpur.
Australian oil and gas firm Santos was in charge of operation when the field was permanently shut down and declared abandoned in October 1, 2013 as gas production dropped to 2.0-3.0 mmcfd.
Initially it produced around 50 mmcfd of gas, which went up to 180 mmcfd.
According to Petrobangla around 488 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of gas was produced from this gas field from 1998 to 2013.
Sangu was operated by different foreign companies of which Santos and its predecessors Cairn and Shell invested over $ 1.0 billion in the gas field.
But the Sangu platform remained abandoned over the past seven years posing a threat of permanent damage of the gas receiving and supply facility worth millions of dollars.
State-run Petrobangla, the owner of the platform, is yet to take any decision over the use of Sangu platform either by state-run entities or by private entrepreneurs.
Petrobangla sources said a number of international firms, however, are eyeing to utilize the platform mainly as a gateway to import LNG, re-gasify it and supply the re-gasified LNG through the Sangu facility.
Sangu facilities include the platform in the Bay of Bengal, sub-sea pipeline and onshore gas process plant.
The onshore gas process plant is located at Fouzdarhat in Chittagong.
A 50-kilometre-long 20-inch diameter seabed pipeline was also built between the offshore platform and the onshore plant.
Sangu platform is located at calm sea near the planned Bay Terminal of Chattagram port at Solimpur, which is free from sea turmoil.
It has the advantage to be operational even during the peak monsoon season without any interruption, which the country’s two operational FSRUs (floating, storage, re-gasification unit) lack, said sources.
LNG re-gasification at the two FSRUS -- Excelerate Energy’s and Summit Group’s -- at Moheshkhali island in the Bay of Bengal were disrupted several times before due to rough sea, they added.
Officials said, the Energy and Mineral Resources Division (EMRD) had initiated a move several years back to build or install a small-scale FSRU, having the capacity to re-gasify around 200 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd) of LNG by a global firm.
Vitol Asia was in final talks with Petrobangla and its subsidiary, Rupantarita Prakritik Gas Company Ltd (RPGCL) to build the mini FSRU and sell re-gasified LNG to Petrobangla.
But the plan was shelved in 2018 as the government focused more on building bigger capacity FSRUSs and subsequently built two FSRUs having the capacity to re-gasify around 500 mmcfd of LNG each.
To cope with the mounting natural gas demand the government is now considering to allow private entrepreneurs to build more FSRUs, re-gasify imported LNG and supply to national gas grid, said a senior energy ministry official.