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Coal Mines May Be Leased To Foreign Firms After Policy Formulation In March: Tapan

Published by MAC on 2007-02-28
Source: The Daily Star

Coal mines may be leased to foreign firms after policy formulation in March: Tapan

The Daily Star, Dhaka

28th February 2007

Formulation of the coal policy will be finalised within March and then the caretaker government will consider leasing out the country's coal mines to foreign companies.

Power and Energy Adviser Tapan Chowdhury apprised reporters of the plans after separate meetings with the chief of the foreign oil-company Chevron and the representatives of foreign coal-company Luxon Global at his ministry yesterday.

"But, in all cases, government's highest emphasis is to protect the interests of the country… Even, in allowing the lessee to export coal, the local consumption will be looked upon as the first priority," he said.

Chevron is now operating a number of gas fields in the country while Luxon is interested to develop the coal mine at Dighipara.

Tapan Chowhury, however, said the issue of third- round bidding for exploration of oil and gas in the country is not on the caretaker government's top- priority list.

"This is a long-term issue... I think, an elected government will look into the matter. But, if we (caretaker government) get a long time, then we'll see the matter," he said.

The immediate-past BNP-led coalition government had initiated inviting international tender on deep-sea natural gas exploration, which is known as "third-round block bidding".

But the move remained pending with the law ministry, with the relevant file waiting for its vetting.

On the other hand, the past government took up a similar move to prepare a coal policy to lease out country's coal basins to foreign companies.

But now the caretaker government expedited the policy-formation move and a special committee at the energy ministry is now busy giving final stitches to the provisional coal policy.

Tapan Chowdhury said that any kind of leasing of the coal basins would be done on the basis of the new policy.

He noted that Chevron's new gas field would come into commercial operation in the first week of next month, with daily production of 150 million cubic feet (mmcf) gas. Later, the output will reach 200 mmcf.

He said that electricity of about 400 MW is now being saved across the country through the enforcement of power-rationing decision, which made it mandatory for the shopping malls to close at 7pm everyday.

"This step has been taken to ensure electricity supply to the irrigation pumps," he said.

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