Russian energy company Gazprom has obtained a new licence for offshore and onshore exploration of gas and oil in two Bhola gas fields.
The government on Tuesday signed two memoranda of understanding (MoU) with Gazprom for strategic cooperation and exploration of oil and gas in the southern district's gas fields.
A MoU on strategic cooperation was signed between Petrobangla and the Public Joint Stock Company (PJSC) Gazprom.
The other MoU on the development of Bhola gas fields was signed between the Bangladesh Petroleum Exploration and Production Company Ltd (Bapex) and Gazprom EP International BV.
Both MoUs were signed at the Petrobangla board room in the capital.
Under the first MoU, PJSC Gazprom was made a strategic partner of state-owned Bapex for oil and gas exploration in the Bay and other critical areas in Chattogram.
This MoU allows Gazprom to sign contracts to produce gas and oil in onshore and offshore sites without any open tender.
Gazprom EP International BV will work with Bapex under joint partnership to conduct 2D and 3D seismic surveys for exploring oil and gas in the Bhola gas fields. The gas fields were discovered by Bapex.
Petrobangla Secretary Syed Ashfaquzzaman and Deputy Chairman of PJSC Gazprom's management committee Vitaly Markelov signed the MoU on strategic cooperation.
Bapex Secretary Mohammad Ali and Sergey Tumanov, managing director and CEO of Gazprom EP International BV, signed the other MoU.
The prime minister's Power and Energy Adviser Dr Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, Energy and Mineral Resources Division Senior Secretary Anisur Rahman, Petrobangla Chairman ABM Abdul Fattah, Russian Ambassador to Bangladesh AI Ignatov and Vitaly Markelov were present at the MoU signing ceremony.
Gazprom delegates, and senior officials of the Energy and Mineral Resources Division, Petrobangla and Bapex were also present.
Dr Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury said, "We plan to take support, including technological support, from Gazprom that will help boost oil and gas exploration in our country."
He said the government would get positive outcomes from Gazprom through transfer of technology.
Bapex discovered the first Bhola gas field in 1995 and found five layers of gas. In 2017, it discovered the second gas field on the island.
The second gas field was named Bhola North and is located 35 kilometres north of the first one.
Dr Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury told The Business Standard Bapex was involving Gazprom in gas exploration to speed up the process.
"We are not underestimating the capacity of Bapex, but it will take a long time for it to explore the area. We need a speedy energy supply to ensure the development of the country.
"Speeding up exploration depends on modern technology and Gazprom has that. That is why we are working with them," he explained.
Since 2013, Gazprom has built 17 exploratory and development wells in seven fields of three state-owned companies, namely Bapex and two Petrobangla subsidiaries – Bangladesh Gas Fields Company Ltd and Sylhet Gas Fields Ltd.