LNG import: Lengthy process irks Muhith

UNB, Dhaka :
Finance Minister AMA Muhith on Wednesday voiced dissatisfaction over the lengthy process in importing LNG from Qatar as the country has no infrastructural facility to deal with or receive any import consignment of LNG.
“The decision for finding and using LNG was taken in early 2009, just after we had formed the last government. Since then, nothing happened in the last five years except the deal with Qatar,” he said.
Muhith said this during a meeting with a delegation of the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) at his secretariat office in the afternoon. MCCI president Rokia Afzal Rahman led the delegation.
The Finance Minister said five years have already elapsed, a time when an LNG terminal could be set up.
He said the government then decided to go for building a floating LNG terminal which could take at best 18 months to be completed once the contract is issued.
Muhith, however, hoped that it would take about two years for building the floating LNG terminal as all the tenders have been floated and the government is waiting for offers as there have already been some indirect and government-to-government (G to G) offers.
Once the terminal is completed, he said, it would be very good for the entire Chittagong belt.
Petrobangla is planning to build the floating LNG import terminal with a capacity to handle 5.0 million tonnes of LNG per year and a re-gasification capacity of, at least, 500,000 Mcf per day.
It will have berthing and mooring facilities for the LNG vessels with the capacity of 138,000-260,000 cubic metres. Petrobangla is looking to award the contract on the build-own-operate-transfer (BOOT) basis for 15 years.
Bangladesh has already extended its Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Qatar on import of LNG, which expired in this March, until June 2015.
Earlier, the MoU between Bangladesh and Qatar Petroleum was signed in January 2011 to import 4.0 million tonnes of LNG per year.
Meanwhile, at one point of the meeting with the MCCI delegation, the Finance Minister said that an expressway on Dhaka-Chittagong route could be built if someone comes up with the proposal of setting it up with toll money.
“I shall make an offer to anybody that you build it. There’re many big shots who often talk tall. Even one has approached me saying that if there is any project worth Tk 5,000, he would turn up. But, unfortunately he didn’t come.”
Muhith was also a bit critical about the philosophy of the Ministry of Communications to make some work here and there to benefit all. “But, that yields no results,” Muhith added.