Bangladesh and Russia are set to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) soon on gas sector cooperation between the two countries which includes Russian involvement in drilling some hydrocarbon wells and installing two gas compressors in Bangladesh on a fast track basis.
An 11-member team from Russian state-run oil and gas company Gazprom headed by its Managing Director Valeri Gulev arrived in the capital yesterday to sign the deal.
The government had been talking with a Russian technical team in the recent months, and has prepared a draft Mou seeking Russian technical and financial help for drilling wells as well as installing some major pipelines.
Gazprom will help Bangladesh develop a gas sector strategic master plan, said an announcement following a meeting between the prime minister's adviser Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury and the Russain team yesterday.
Valeri Gulev, who represents Russia's biggest gas company which is also the largest gas producer in the world, told the press after the meeting, “"We are keen to support Bangladesh's energy sector. We feel that we could do a lot to enhance the collaboration between the two countries. We want to do a lot, and we want to do that fast.”
The meeting discussed five issues to be incorporated in the Mou. The first deal would be on drilling five wells in five of the state- owned gas fields in the country. The two countries primarily agreed to reach an agreement within October next. Once the agreement is signed, Gazprom will take just six weeks to complete drilling these wells. This will be considered as a short-term cooperation.
Secondly, Gazprom will install two gas compressors in the national grid to boost gas supplies at a desired pressure. Location of these compressors has not been fixed yet, although initially it was suggested that these be installed in Ashuganj and Elenga where the authorities are already preparing two such devices through a tender with funds from the Asian Development Bank.
On this issue, Tawfiq said at an April 5 press conference that the tender for the ADB-funded compressors would not be affected by any deal with Gazprom. The country needed more gas compressors to boost gas supply to places far from the producing gas fields. And the two compressors (of Gazprom) would be required especially in the gas-starved southwestern region where gas pipelines are being installed now, he added.
Thirdly, Russia will help prepare a gas sector strategic master plan outlining Bangladesh's future exploration, drilling and distribution network.
Fourthly, Gazprom is interested in joint venture agreements with the national gas companies for long term operation. It will also open a local office in the country.
Finally, Gazprom will help Petrobangla and its subsidiary companies in capacity building by providing training and higher education facilities, and sharing experience.
Yesterday's meeting was also attended by State Minister for Power Enamul Haque, Energy Secretary M Mijbahuddin, Power Secretary Abul Kalam Azad, Petrobangla chairman Hossain Monsur and officials of the ministry concerned, Petrobangla and its affiliates and Power Development Board. Russian Ambassador in Dhaka Gennady P Trotsenko was present.
The Russian team continued negotiations with officials.