ISSN 2330-717X

BRI To Boost Bangladesh’s Energy Security – OpEd

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 A multi-functional modular seabed trencher developed by a Chinese firm has recently completed 100 kilometres of pipelines construction in Bangladesh’s first marine pipeline project under Belt and Road Initiative, setting two world records in directional drilling and deep trenching as Global Times Reported.

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Bangladesh initiated “Single-point Mooring with Double Pipelines”- project under Flagship Belt and Road Initiative during the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Bangladesh in 2016 as part of development cooperation.

It was one of the top priority projects of the Energy Division as the project will substantially save fuel transportation cost along with time. A “Single-point Mooring with Double Pipelines”- is a loading buoy anchored offshore, that serves as a mooring point and interconnect for tankers loading or offloading gas or liquid products. 

The project was undertaken by the Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) to transport imported raw petroleum to state-owned Eastern Refinery Limited (ERL) at Moheshkhali, Cox’s Bazar, Chattogram. 

In December 2016, BPC reached an agreement with China Petroleum Pipeline Engineering Company (CPP) for engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning for the installation of single point mooring with 220-kilometer-long double pipelines, including building a 146-kilometer-long offshore pipeline and 74-kilometer-long onshore pipeline to carry imported oil from sea to a refinery in Chattogram district.

The Installation of Single Point Mooring (SPM) with Double Pipeline is being implemented with Chinese concessional loan of around $554 million. Of the total loan amount, China is providing $467.84 million as preferential buyers’ credit and the remaining $82.5 million as soft loan. The Exim Bank of China is providing the money to be repaid within 20 years at an interest rate of 2.0 per cent per annum with five years’ grace period. The project is set be completed by June 30, 2023.

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At present, large vessels carrying crude oil are anchored in the deep sea and due to the low navigability of  critical channel, state-owned BPC uses some lighterage vessels to transport imported raw petroleum to state-owned Eastern Refinery Limited (ERL) in Chattogram that is both time consuming and costly.

Explaining the necessity of the project, Bangladesh’s State Minister for Power and Energy said, it will help save Tk1,000 crore ($106 Million) a year as there will be no need to use lighterage vessels to transport the raw petroleum.

Once completed, The SPM (Single Point Mooring) will have an annual unloading capacity of 9 million. It will be able to unload 120,000 tons of crude oil in 48 hours and 70,000 tons of diesel in 28 hours will easily unload imported crude oil and finished products from 100,000 DWT (Deadweight) tankers by 72 hours, which is now taking 11 days for unloading. 

Officials said the SPM project will have supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) & Communication System and also includes construction of three crude oil tanks (each of net capacity 50,000 m³), three HSD tanks (each of net capacity 30,000 m³), main pumps, booster pumps and other pumps, installation of generator for power supply, housing facilities, administration and other buildings, pigging system, custody metering system, security system and firefighting system.

Bangladesh Navy and Coal Power Generation Bangladesh Limited, which is constructing a coal-run power plant at the area, requested to shift the pipelines about 6 to 8 metre deeper positions under the sea for safer navigation the coastal region. Which was very challenging. Usually the depth of the buried offshore pipelines is 1.5 to 3 meters, reaching 5 meters below the seabed, which is already a highly difficult task.

The unbeatable China’s domestically developed multi-pulse high-power accelerator, “Shenlong-3,” used to  makes the depth reached to an unprecedented 11 meters for the 146-kilometer offshore pipeline to go through the sea lanes which is a world record. The seabed trencher was self-developed by state-owned China Petroleum Pipeline Engineering Co (CPP), which is a professional company specializing in constructing oil and gas storage and transportation infrastructure, under the China National Petroleum Corporation.

Energy security is tremendously critical for Bangladesh, which is on track to become a developed country by 2041 and to graduate from LCD by 2026. To provide enough safe storage and uninterrupted supply at a most cost-effective manner while fuelling its booming economy, Bangladesh will touch that aim by implementing benefit from a single mooring with two pipelines project thus ensure energy security. 

Saifan Shakhaoat is a Bangladesh-based rearcher and freelance writer.

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