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LNG import to hinder Ctg port activities [ Business ] 16/03/2018
LNG import to hinder Ctg port activities
Draft contracts with two foreign cos at final stage
Manjurul Ahsan

The government without any feasibility study is preparing contracts to purchase gas from two foreign companies who would import and regasify liquefied natural gas using the jetties of two fertiliser factories on the downstream of the Chittagong port that handles 90 per cent of the country’s maritime trade.

The state-run Rupantorito Prakritik Gas Company Ltd finalised the drafts of two contracts with Singapore-based Trafigura Pte Ltd and a joint-venture of Cyprus-based Gunvor Group Ltd and Belgium-based Exmar bypassing tenders, said officials.

Experts censured the government move without any feasibility study, saying that it could put at risk the two fertiliser factories and other establishments in the proximity, where naval base and airport are also located, as LNG is a risky commodity explosive in nature.

Chittagong Port Authority officials said that presence of LNG carriers and floating storage and regasification units would occupy 80-90 metres of the narrow navigable channel of the Karnaphuli River.

There would be hardly any space for vessels to pass through the channel during unloading of LNG as vessels are usually barred from entering some 150 metres from the edge of an LNG carrier, they said, adding that about 300 vessels, including 20 ocean-going ones, usually moved to and from the port a day.

Rupantorito Prakritik Gas Company Ltd managing director Md Quamruzzaman said that they would send the drafts soon to the ministry for the government approvals.

Asked about feasibility study, he said that the LNG supplier companies would carry out required studies after signing the contracts.

The gas company later would seek approvals from authorities concerned, including the port authority and the Department of Environment, Quamruzzaman said.

The contracts would be awarded under the Speedy Supply of Power and Energy (Special Provisions) Act 2010 that indemnifies

officials concerned against prosecution for awarding contracts without tender, said energy division officials.

Energy expert M Tamim, also Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology petroleum engineering professor, said that the government should have conducted studies to assess the feasibility considering technical, commercial, environmental and safety issues.

Chemical engineering professor at the university Ijaz Hossain said that building LNG import

facilities in close proximity to Chittagong port, naval base and airport was
risky.

He said that such establishments were considered as red category for LNG’s explosive nature.

Chittagong Port Authority secretary Mohammad Omar Faruk said
that port authority’s expert team would examine whether there were any safety issues and potential impacts on the port activities.

LNG carriers require maintaining an off-limits area of 30 metres while moving and 150 metres during unloading, leaving only half of the navigable route for the vessels and ships to and from the port and naval base, said port officials.

According to the government plan, each of Trafigura and Gunvor-Exmar JV will supply 5.66 million cubic metres per day to the gas transmission system.

The companies would use ocean-going vessels with 30,000 cubic metre capacity to bring

the LNG to the jetties which would require at least one vessel occupying either of the jetties for 230 days in a year.
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