Amid questions over cost and work quality, Gazprom EP International is about to start drilling four wells at Shahbazpur and Bhola north gas fields owned by the Bangladesh Petroleum Exploration and Production Company (Bapex).
The development and gas exploration from the wells will be completed by December this year.
"This is a part of government initiative to hike domestic production in the face of a volatile global LNG market," said Bapex Managing Director Mohammad Ali.
Energy and Mineral Resource Division's Secretary Md Mahbub Hossain and Petrobangla Chairman Nazmul Ahsan are expected to inaugurate the work soon.
However, production boost in Shabazpur gas fields would not bring much relief to the ongoing countrywide energy crisis as they are isolated from the mainland. Gas from the fields has been supplied to local power plants and an industry since 2009.
A number of Petrobangla officials and experts questioned awarding the work to Gazprom, as they said performance of the company was disappointing in previous projects.
In 2012, Gazprom was tasked to drill ten gas wells in the country through an unsolicited procurement method. But all the five wells – Titas-20, Titas-21, Semutang-6, Begumganj-3, and Shahbazpur-4 – dug in the first phase by Gazprom got filled with sand and sediment.
Subsequently Bapex had to undertake the responsibility of repairing and making the wells suitable for gas extraction.
In addition, Gazprom was paid an average of around Tk150 crore in the past for drilling each well while Bapex could have done the works at a cost of Tk60 to Tk80 crore maximum for each.
Sources at Petrobangla said that Gazprom EP International claims it as a concern of Russian state-owned Gazprom, which is one of the leading gas producers in the world.
But the Gazprom EP International actually conducted previous drilling and exploration after hiring Uzbekistan-based Eriell Corporation.