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Bangladesh To Launch Offshore Oil and Gas Bidding Round

Energy-starved Bangladesh will invite later this week international bidding for 24 offshore oil and gas exploration blocks as the south Asian country looks to increase its domestic energy supply.

Bangladesh will launch on March 10 an international bidding round for the blocks in the Bay of Bengal, Zanendra Nath Sarker, chairman of state-owned oil and gas firm Petrobangla, told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday.

Bangladesh has set the deadline for receiving bids for the blocks for the first week of September 2024. Bangladesh and Petrobangla will then proceed with reviewing and evaluating the bids and hope to finalize oil and gas exploration agreements by the end of 2024, Sarker told Reuters.

“We're making plans to reduce supply shortages to keep gas-fired power plants and industries running,” Petrobangla’s executive told Reuters.

Declining local currency and foreign exchange reserves, coupled with high energy prices on the spot market in 2022 and 2023, plunged Bangladesh in an energy crisis, which Reuters estimated in June last year as the worst in a decade.  

Also last year, PetroBangla signed an agreement with QatarEnergy to receive liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Qatar for 15 years beginning in 2026 as LNG buyers were looking for long-term supply to secure gas from Qatar’s massive expansion projects to insulate themselves from volatile spot prices.

Bangladesh, in particular, was one of the South Asian economies most hit by the soaring LNG spot prices and withdrew from the spot market in 2022, alongside other buyers such as India and Pakistan.

As spot LNG prices in Asia dipped last month to the lowest level since April 2021, buyers have returned to the spot market to procure the fuel at lower prices.

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In 2024, Petrobangla plans to import 48 LNG cargoes from the spot market, pending government approval, up from 23 cargoes bought on the spot market in 2023, Sarker told Reuters. 

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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