Energy group Chevron (CVX) has made the biggest gas discovery in at least a decade in energy-starved Bangladesh, almost doubling the size of a field it is drilling there, a government official said Wednesday.
The U.S. firm has told authorities its Bibiyana gas field in Sylhet, northeastern Bangladesh, contains 6.6 trillion cubic feet (186 billion cubic meters) of gas, up from its original size of 3.4 trillion cubic feet, Muktadir Ali, chairman of state-owned Petrobangla said.
"Out of the amount, some 4.4 trillion cubic feet (tcf) is recoverable. It's the biggest new gas finding in at least a decade," said Ali, whose company shares production with Chevron.
A Chevron spokesman in Bangladesh said the company had submitted its latest reserve figure to Petrobangla recently but wouldn't comment on exact figures.
Bangladesh has been facing an acute shortage of gas since 2008, resulting in production cuts in hundreds of factories.
"The new findings mean we can now scale up gas production within a year and our gas reserve would last a few more years than originally thought," Ali said.
The country has proven recoverable gas reserves in the Bay of Bengal of more than 15 tcf, but some 60% of the amount has already been used.
Petrobangla had said gas reserves in the South Asian country will start declining from 2012 and dry up by 2014-15 at present consumption rates if there were no new discoveries.
The figure was released nearly a month after the country awarded three offshore exploration blocks to companies to search for oil and gas in the disputed waters of the Bay of Bengal.
The government granted two blocks to the U.S. energy giant ConocoPhillips (COP) and another to Irish company Tullow despite ownership claims on some of the territories by neighboring India and Myanmar.
Experts have forecast major reserves of gas in the Bangladesh waters of the Bay of Bengal, after huge discoveries were made in the Myanmar and Indian areas of the bay.
Bangladesh needs urgently to locate new sources of energy as the government forecasts the nation's current gas reserves will run out by 2014-15 at present consumption rates.
Copyright (c) 2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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