The prospect of discovering more gas fields onshore is high in the country, but the government cannot wait only for those fields to come into production as there must be several parallel plans to ensure energy security.
As part of this strategy, the government has imported liquefied natural gas (LNG) and coal.
Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, energy adviser to the prime minister, said this on Sunday while speaking as the chief guest at a webinar organised to mark the National Energy Security Day.
He also stressed that the socio-economic conditions should get priority in the energy policy of a country.
The aftermath of the mining has to be taken into consideration as socio-economic conditions of the general people are a big issue, he argued.
Regarding the gradual energy import tendency, Tawfiq-e-Elahi said, "Flexibility is very important for keeping pace with the world as we cannot go alone."
"I also believe we have more prospects for finding gas in onshore areas. Bhola gas fields have indicated that onshore fields have not dried out. However, we cannot sit idle till the discovery of those fields," he said.
Defending the imports of energy, he said, "Even if gas is found in the sea area, it could take at least 10 years to get the supply. How would we meet the industrial gas demand till then?"
Every year, August 9 is observed as the National Energy Security Day to commemorate a decision of Bangabandhu to buy five gas fields (Titas, Bakhrabad, Habiganj, Rashidpur and Kailashtila) from foreign companies at a nominal price of $4.5 million. The energy sector of Bangladesh now stands on that purchase.
State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid addressed the event as a special guest.
Asked whether the government is following the path shown by Bangabandhu to attain the energy security, Nasrul said, "We are in a resource planning. We have taken some short-term and long-term plans. In some areas, we also have taken long-term plans because we think putting everything in one basket is risky for a country like ours."
He said his government started to import LNG to ensure affordable energy for the people.
Another special guest, Shahiduzzaman Sarkar, chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources, emphasised own sources.
Energy expert and Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology Professor M Tamim said the energy poverty is still a challenge for the country.
"We have attained remarkable achievements in electrification and other energy indicators, but quality and reliability have to be ensured in the coming days," he observed.
Regarding excess capacity building, M Tamim said, "Our energy growth has to be on the basis of the economic growth. Therefore, we should take short-term and med-term targets and planning. Otherwise, we have to bear the burden of excess capacity."
Among others, Petrobangla Chairman ABM Abdul Fattah, Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation Chairman Shamsur Rahman, Chairman of Forum for Energy Reporters Bangladesh Arun Karmakar, Energy and Power Editor Mollah Amjad Hossain spoke as panel discussants.
Former managing director of Rupantarita Prakritik Gas Company Limited Engineer Md Qamruzzaman presented the keynote paper at the programme.