The Bhola gas option isn't practical. We gave the government three options considering its financial capacity.
A concern of buying from the spot market is that it's very expensive and there are fears over whether the industries can pay it back.
So, we proposed fixing the amount of imports. Since we are bringing 100mmcf, we can bring 200mmcf. An extra 100mmcf, if imported at say the highest price, will still be $200 million per month. In six months, it comes to $1.2 billion. This gas will go to industries, making those more viable and increasing capacities. There won't be worries over getting the money back.
The second option is based on the fact that 80% of industries are located in Narayanganj, Gazipur, Ashulia and Savar. There are dual fuel power plants there, which can run on diesel instead of gas. If you can send at least 100mmcf gas to industries there, 80% of our industries will have more capacity than before. Foreign exports won't drop.
The third option is pricing of gas for industries. If an extra 100mmcf is exported from the spot market at $30 or $40 per mmBtu and added to the gas imported on long-term contract, then weighted average price for the industry level will be Tk21 for Tk25 or so per cubic metre.
We suggest negotiating this price with the industries as they might be willing to give support. This will bring some ease for us.
So, our proposals on increasing industry capacity are based on what the government is capable of doing. This way there won't be unemployment and foreign currency will be stable. We aren't burdening the government. It is about cutting your coat according to your cloth.
Anwar-ul Alam Chowdhury is the president of Bangladesh Chamber of Industries