Western energy-exporting nations, including Australia, along with prominent global corporations, have "robbed" approximately $8 billion from Bangladesh's foreign exchange reserves over the past three years, capitalising on the energy crisis triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine conflict, said Dr Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury.
Speaking at a webinar on Tuesday, Tawfiq-e-Elahi, adviser to the prime minister on power, energy and mineral resources, said, "We have been priced out of the market by exporter countries like Australia and other big companies of the world."
Due to hikes in prices of fuel and other import goods in the international market following the Covid-19 pandemic and the Ukraine war, Bangladesh's balance of trade has fallen into a challenge, he said.
"If the prices of oil, gas and coal were not increased, we could manage energy supply with the current subsidy and payments by the consumers," he further added.
Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury highlighted the need for diversification of and self-reliance in energy sources to ensure energy security in the future.
The webinar titled "Bangabandhu's Vision, Accomplishments, and Realisation on Energy Security," was hosted by the Bangladesh Energy Society.
Former principal secretary to the prime minister, Mohammed Abul Kalam Azad chaired the webinar while experts and stakeholders such ad Summit Group Chairman Mohammed Aziz Khan, International Energy Consultant Engr Khondkar Abdus Salek (Sufi), former chairman of Petrobangla Dr Hussein Monsur, and Professor Mohammad Tamim from Buet's Petroleum Engineering Department spoke at the event.
The keynote was presented by former member of the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission Mohammed Makbul-e-Ilahi Chowdhury.
To alleviate the pressure on imports, speakers emphasised making efforts to increase production from existing sources and explore new avenues.
Emphasising the development of indigenous energy resources, Mohammed Aziz Khan, however, said that along with domestic sources we may need to import due to the hard reality that limitations exist like low irradiance and land scarcity for solar power development.
In his keynote presentation, Mohammed Makbul-e-Ilahi Chowdhury stressed the need for increasing domestic gas production to reduce the need for spot LNG imports within the next year.
He also noted that domestic coal extraction and responsible offshore gas exploration remain essential for energy self-reliance as gas alone cannot suffice in fulfilling energy demands.