- Bakhrabad-Siddhirganj gas transmission pipeline supplies sand and iron mixed gas
- Unusual dust has been seen since the pipeline's commissioning
- Dust contains a maximum of 60% iron particles
- The area has nine gas-fired power plants
- Power generation and garments factories' production interrupted due to dust mixed gas
- GTCL fails to stop dust from pipeline
- Petrobangla's fact-finding committee says gas fields with lower reserve and gas pipeline's internal erosion might be the source of dust.
The supply of gas mixed with excessive dust from the Bakhrabad-Siddhirganj gas transmission pipeline is hampering production, particularly in readymade garment factories and power plants in Narayanganj.
As a result, their maintenance costs also go up because of frequently changing filters and other equipment to avoid engine damages with dust that contains as high as 60% iron particles.
Other gas consumers of the Meghnaghat, Haripur, Siddhirgonj and Demra areas also suffer from the dust contaminated gas.
The Gas Transmission Company Ltd (GTCL), the lone gas transmission company, has taken several measures to stop unusual dust particles that mix with gas, but to no avail.
Meanwhile, a fact-finding committee formed by Petrobangla (Bangladesh Oil, Gas & Mineral Corporation) reported that the source of the dust might be the gas fields, whose reserve levels have gone down.
The committee also opined that the iron content in the dirt might be coming from the internal erosion of the pipeline.
The fact-finding committee also suggested conducting a lab test on the sample of the pipeline.
According to the Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) data, there are nine gas-fired power plants in Narayanganj, Siddirganj and Meghnagaht areas.
The area also has around 1,000 apparel factories, according to the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) data.
The plants and factories are being fueled by the Bakhrabad-Siddhirganj gas transmission pipeline and some other alternative pipelines.
Of these, the Bakhrabad-Siddhirganj gas transmission pipeline was built and commissioned in December 2018 at a cost of Tk849 crore to boost power generation and industrial production in Siddhirganj and adjacent areas.
Power plants and other consumers in the region, however, have been raising a complaint of dust mixed gas to the gas distribution company, Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company Limited (Titas Gas), since they started supplying gas from the pipeline.
Production in the 450MW Meghnaghat and the 350MW Summit, the 360MW and 412MW Haripur, the 210MW Siddhirganj plants and others has been interrupted several times for the dust problem.
Based on the complaints, the GTCL, the owner and operator of the pipeline, has been trying to solve the problem by cleaning the pipeline with the venting and pigging system.
But the problem has been getting bad to worse as the pipeline ages and the amount of dust increases as well.
In the first half of this month, the gas supply in Narayangang remained suspended thrice on three different days as dust engulfed the pipeline, resulting in leaks in different areas.
On 6 April, the Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company stopped gas supply in Narayanganj and nearby Munshiganj for replacing valves in Narayanganj's Siddhirganj-Godnail RMS (Regulating and Metering Station) and Godnail TBS (Town Border Station).
The second gas supply supination and lower pressure were held on 10-11 April as the GTCL conducted the pigging operation in the Bakhrabad-Siddhirganj gas transmission pipeline.
Later, on 14 April, the gas supply in some areas of Narayanganj and Munshiganj districts remained suspended again for 7.5 hours as the GTCL conducted pigging activities to clean the pipeline valve in Haripur.
However, the situation has not changed yet as power plants in the areas were closed on 18 April 18 to dirt gas supply, according to the BPDB' daily generation report.
Officials at the 360MW Haripur and 335MW Summit plants said that they have been suffering from dirty gas for a few years. The power plants are now setting up an additional micron filter to separate dust from gas as a percussion to save their generators and other engines, they said, seeking anonymity.
But power plants that do not have a micron filter fails to run the engine. Last year, a compressor of the Electricity Generation Company of Bangladesh's 412-megawatt Haripur power plant failed because of gas mixed with dust.
If the problem is not solved immediately, the economic progress of the country will be hampered as these power stations are producing cheaper electricity, they said.
Besides, interruption in power generation, dust mixed gas also obstructs appeal industries from expected production. If gas supply remains shut in the areas for a single day, the industries incur around Tk272 crore in an export loss.
Mohammad Hatem, first vice-president of the BKMEA, said, "Gas supply shortage is not a new problem for garment factories. We have been facing gas supply problems, including low pressure, dirty gas and sudden shut, for many years."
The GTCL, however, says there is no dust mixed gas problem in Narayanganj.
Engineer Md Atiquzzaman, managing director of the GTCL, said "There is now no dirt mixed gas problem in the region. But a few days back, we have received such allegations."
Petrobangla's inquiry committee
Based on the power plants' complaints, a committee formed to find out the reasons and sources of dust in the gas pipeline found the existence of the problem in the areas.
Petrobangla (Bangladesh Oil, Gas & Mineral Corporation) formed the committee on 14 March this year and it submitted the report after one month on 14 April to the chairman of Petrobangla.
During the committee's field visits, they found 58-60 kg of dry fine dust at the Siddhirganj Pig Trap Station. In the dust, iron content was as high as 60 % while 23% was identified as sand and silica.
In the report, the committee said dust can come from the gas fields as their reserves about to dry out.
However, gas-producing companies said they are supplying gas to the national gas transmission grid after filtering and separating dirt.
Bapex Managing Director Mohammad Ali said, "We have a new process plant and filtration system to supply clean gas. So, there is no way to provide dirty gas to the gridline."
Regarding iron content with the gas, the committee said it could be the internal erosion of the gas pipeline.
The fact-finding committee also suggested conducting a lab test on a sample of the pipeline.
However, the GTCL claimed that the pipeline was purchased and set up by maintaining the required standard and it was certified by the authorities concerned.
Turky-baseed Fernas Construction Company Inc was the contractor for the project, while pipeline and major equipment were sourced from Indian Welspun Corp Ltd and Jindal Saw Pipe Ltd.
The 60km gas transmission pipeline was installed and relevant infrastructure was constructed with the World Bank and the government funding.
The Business Standard has asked the contractor through an email on the work quality of the pipeline. But no response has come yet from the other part.
Gas supply through alternative pipelines
Although GTCL high officials denied admitting the issue, they are supplying gas to the large power plants using alternative pipelines.
Of the power plants, the 450MW Meghnaghat and the 335MW Summit power plants are getting gas supply from the BKB-Demra, an alternative gas transmission pipeline with lower pressure.
On the other hand, the 360MW Haripur power plant is getting gas supply from the Narshindhi-Haripur pipeline.
But power plants that have not alternative gas transmission pipelines nearby are facing the problem.