Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company is going to take up a massive project to overhaul its age-old gas pipelines in Dhaka metropolitan city to make the flow more smooth and minimize risks of accidents.
Official sources said the plan for changing the ageing pipelines came to be regarded as the core needs amid a series of recent explosions and fire accidents blamed on faulty and leaking lines.
When a huge explosion killed at least six people and injured several others in Moghbazar last June, fire service officials suspected leakage in Titas gas line as the cause.
Leakage in Titas pipeline at a mosque in Fatullah led to the explosions in six air conditioners leaving at least 27 people killed and over a dozen injured during Friday prayers in 2020, in one of the country's worst gas explosions.
These tragic incidents apart, the issue of the leakage in pipelines also came to the attention of the authorities when Titas Gas started installing pre-paid meters in parts of the city.
Titas officials said their teams found huge leakages in pipelines in both customers' end as well as utility end when they worked for pre-paid gas meters in recent years.
Admitting the issue, a top official of Titas Gas said that they are now working on the ministry's instructions to overhaul the pipelines.
According to official sources, initially, a plan was earlier submitted to the energy and mineral resources division of the ministry of power, energy and mineral resources for approval.
But it was reverted to the Titas Gas authority with some observations and suggestions to accommodate those in the plan, said a senior official of the energy and mineral resources division.
"We've sent back the relevant file with some observations and suggestions to follow those in their plan to make it more effective", he told UNB preferring anonymity as he was not authorized to speak on the issue.
Titas Gas general manager (planning and development) Shafiqul Islam, who is dealing with the plan, informed that the organisation's current plan is to conduct a techno-economic feasibility study first and then prepare a design based on its report to implement the proposed pipeline replacement project.
"Preparing a geographic information system (GIS) mapping is also part of the plan", he added.
He said the Titas Gas authority is now in the process to appoint a consultant to conduct the study.
Official sources said as per the plan the Titas Gas will replace the aged-old pipeline in 60 administrative zones, out of total 139 zones across its command area.
The proposed area is mainly located in the Dhaka metropolitan city although Titas has a vast network elsewhere including in Narayanganj, Savar, Manikganj, Munshiganj, Mymensing and Norsingdi.
Officials said the pipeline replacement project will be implemented by the Titas' own funds.
However, the financial involvement in the project is yet to be determined as this will depend on the report of the techno-economic feasibility study and on the basis of the next design.
Shafiqul said pipelines too dilapidated for the service and unfit to serve the growing gas supply-demand will be changed.
"But, those found to be in good condition will be kept", he said adding that this work will be a kind of BMRE (balancing, modernization, rehabilitation and expansion).
He also informed that one of the main objectives of the techno-economic study is tracing out the leakage in the pipeline network. Titas Gas's huge network has pipelines of different diameters that include from 3/4 to 16 diameters.
Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company, having a customer base of 2.874 million, has been responsible for gas supply to the greater Dhaka and Mymensingh area.
Being the largest and oldest gas distribution entity founded in 1964, Titas currently has a network of 13,197 km underground pipelines to distribute gas to the customers.
"But most of its pipeline network is very old and in many areas they are marred with leakage", said State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid at a recent webinar.
He said some of the pipelines are between 40-50 years old which need to be replaced as they lost their capacity and leakages occur.
Titas Gas officials said they have been implementing different projects to relocate and rehabilitate gas pipelines based on emergency needs for the sake of facilitating some mega infrastructure projects like metro-rail, elevated expressway and flyovers.
"But the new project will be a massive one which will cover from small scale pipeline to large scale pipeline across the city", said another Titas official.