The Hon’ble Minister of Water Resources, the Government of India and, Chairman of the First BIMSTEC Ministerial Conference, The Hon’ble Energy Ministers of BIMSTEC Countries, Distinguished Heads of Delegations, Distinguished Participants,
Ladies and Gentlemen.
Assalamu Alaikum and Good Morning,
It is, indeed, a great honour and privilege for me to attend the First BIMSTEC Ministerial Conference on Energy Co-operation. I, on behalf of Mr. Mahmudur Rahman, the Hon’ble Advisor for Energy and Mineral Resources Division, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, and on my own behalf express our deep gratitude and satisfaction to the Government of India for taking the lead and organizing such a very important and timely meeting. During the past couple of years BIMSTEC has emerged as a constructive forum in fostering partnership in regional co-operation. The First Ministerial Conference on energy co-operation is yet another milestone in consolidation of this process. We are grateful to our leaderships of BIMSTEC countries for their far-reaching vision and timely initiatives in creating such an important forum for regional co-operation for mutual benefits. This conference is being held at a time when the economies of BIMSTEC countries, like many others, are facing a big challenge to cope with the soaring petroleum price. We are confident that the senior level energy officials meeting, which took place in the last two days, has made important recommendations on various agenda. We expect that this ministerial conference will give the directions and guidance toward achieving sustainable economic growth through mutual cooperation in the energy sector-desperately needed for the economic emancipation of the millions of the people of the region.
2. Energy is considered to be the most vital input for economic development. Under the Millennium Development Goal and Energy Sector Vision, Government of Bangladesh has set its goal in the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper(PRSP)to substantially reduce chronic poverty and invigorate social development in the shortest time span. To meet social targets in line with the country’s Millennium Development Goals (MDG), the Government under the PRSP is committed to halve the proportion of population living below the poverty line from a level of 50% in 2002 to 25% by 2015. To attain this goal, it is important to accelerate the pace of poverty reduction from 1. 5 % per year observed in the 1990s to 3.3 % for the period up to 2015. Strategically it is recognized that acceleration of economic growth would be the main vehicle for poverty reduction. Therefore, Bangladesh will have to raise the GDP growth from its current level of 5.2% per annum to 67% and sustain this growth up to 2015 for achieving its poverty reduction target.
3. There is no denying the fact that reliable access to energy is essential for economic development and poverty reduction. Non-commercial energy, mostly, biomass, accounts for 62% of the total energy consumption in Bangladesh. Commercial energy is available to about 30%ofthe population as electricity and about 8% of the population as liquid fuels, natural gas or LPG. Bangladesh’s per capita commercial energy consumption is one of the lowest in the BIMSTEC region-only 115 kilograms of oil equivalent (kgoe). Natural gas alone accounts for about 73% of commercial energy and 90% of electricity generation. Per capita electricity consumption is about 150kWh. Consumption of energy is growing at steady rate of about 8% per annum.
4. Bangladesh has very limited energy resources-primarily natural gas with very minor hydro-electric power. Premium quality coal deposits abundantly exist at deeper depths in the northwestern region of the country. But all of them are not considered to be extractable from techno-economical and environmental consideration. GOB has set its vision to make electricity accessible to all by 2020. Ongoing studies on power and gas sector master plans reveal that electricity load will grow from 22,000 GWh in 2004-05 to 168,699 GWh in 2024-25 whereas natural gas demand will grow from 487 BCF in 2004-05 to 2200 BCF in 2024-25 under a moderate demand growth scenario. To meet this demand growth Bangladesh needs about 23 TCF of natural gas reserve, of which 37% will have to be met either from import or from new discoveries or both.
5. To meet these challenges, GOB took a number of steps toward policy formulation, institutional and regulatory framework development aiming to attract private participation in both energy and power sectors. Among these initiatives formulation of Petroleum Policy 1993, National Energy Policy 1995, Private Sector Power Generation Policy 1996 and Small Scale Private Power Generation Policy 1998 etc, were the important steps forward. Most of these policies are now being updated to pave the way for more private sector investments. To create enabling environment for private sector investment in power, natural gas and petroleum sectors, to determine tariff, to protect consumers’ interests and to ensure competitive market, GOB has established Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission through an act of the parliament in 2003. GOB is now actively reviewing a draft Gas Act to ensure efficient and economic use of natural gas and to ensure institutional reform in gas sector. Unbundling and corporatisation of both gas and power sectors entities are underway under the institutional reform process.
6. In the recent years, under her able leadership of the Hon’ble. Prime Minister, Begum Khaleda Zia, Government of Bangladesh has made tremendous achievements in expanding vehicular use of CNG. Around 40,000 CNG-run vehicles are now plying in and around Dhaka including highways and Chittagong, the port city of Bangladesh. As a result, air quality in Dhaka has improved significantly to satisfactory level. We believe much work still need to be done to improve air quality and environment to allow people to have fresh air for breathing.
Steps are underway to convert diesel-run vehicles into CNG-run ones.
7. Government of Bangladesh is active to diversify and ensure optimum uses of energy resources. A draft Renewable Energy Policy is now under active review and the Energy Regulatory Commission when functions with full capacity will play its role to ensure efficient uses of energy. A draft Energy Conservation Act which was initiated few years back has been deferred due to the emergence of BERC Act.
8. What is lacking in Bangladesh is to develop renewable energy technology (RET), diversification of energy uses, setting standards at the end user levels ensuring optimum uses of energy, setting emission standards of energy users, converting waste in to energy for the efficient management of millions of tons of wastes, upgrading standards of ex-refinery products, popularizing LPG uses at a large scale for cooking and more importantly, improving people’s awareness for efficient use of energy resources.
9. We are optimistic that the BIMSTEC countries have ample potential for renewable and nonrenewable energy resources, more importantly, we have plenty of workforce and fast-growing energy industry. Harnessing indigenous energy resources, assessment of long-term energy needs, development of hydro-electricity potentials in Nepal and in Bhutan and sharing electrical power for regional needs could be the key for the long-term energy security of the BIMSTEC countries. Regional gas grid, power grid, promoting Renewable Energy Technology (RET) and energy diversity, setting standards for ensuring energy conservation, reducing Green House Gas (GHG) and setting standards for emission, providing training to the energy professionals, exchanging visits for senior level officials aiming to share knowledge and information, and taking steps toward development of regulatory and reform process for improving energy management would be the key areas where BIMSTEC countries can extend their fullest support and co-operation for mutual interest.
10. I am very much optimistic about the outcome of First BIMSTEC Ministerial Conference on Energy. With far-reaching vision and able leadership we would be able to ensure long-term energy security of millions of people of this region to satisfy their aspiration and hopes, which indeed is very essential, to reduce poverty and improve living standards. I am confident BIMSTEC officials and energy experts who have attended these meetings in the last two days will take proper guidance from the conference and take steps toward materializing the decisions for greater benefits of our people.
Thank you very much for your kind attention.
A.M.M. Nasir Uddin
Energy and Mineral Resources Division
Ministry of Power, Energy & Mineral Resources
The Peoples’ Republic of Bangladesh.