About 500 textile and garment factories are operating at half or less capacity for a persistent gas crisis triggered by a pipeline leakage, complained leaders of the sectors. Gas is used in factories in Narayanganj, Narsingdi and Gazipur, known as...
Gas crisis affects textile, garment factories
Authorities cite shortage, industrialists blame leakage
Emran Hossain | Published: 01:50, Apr 14,2021
About 500 textile and garment factories are operating at half or less capacity for a persistent gas crisis triggered by a pipeline leakage, complained leaders of the sectors.
Gas is used in factories in Narayanganj, Narsingdi and Gazipur, known as the textile and garment manufacturing hubs, for generating captive power as the national grid cannot meet their demand.
Gas authorities, however, blamed a supply shortage of liquefied natural gas for the crisis, refusing to accept that there was a fault in their pipeline. ‘The leakage that appeared in a gas pipeline in Haripur of Madanpur a month ago is still there, leaking gas,’ Bangladesh Textile Mills Association director Azahar Khan told New Age.
A stench has filled areas adjacent to the leakage where people are also taking ill from continuously inhaling methane, he said. Azahar, chairman of Mithila Textile, is using only 20 per cent of its production capacity through alternative measures. ‘There are about 250 textile and garment factories in Naryanganj that are similarly hit by the gas crisis,’ he said.
Industrialists said that the gas leakage appeared with a massive bang on March 13 when Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company Limited officials were cleaning sludge on the pipe.
‘The gas pressure fell abnormally all of a sudden just after the March 13 leakage of the pipeline,’ said Saleudh Zaman Khan, managing director, NZ Textile Ltd.
NZ textile employs 7,000 workers at Bhulta in Narsingdi and its daily production has fallen by up to 60 per cent ever since the leakage occurred in the pipeline. On Tuesday, the gas pressure fell to five PSI on an average against the demand of about 20 PSI in Narsingdi area.
About 200 factories are hit hard by the fall in the gas pressure with some of them suspending productions. Titas Gas managing director Ali Iqbal Md Nurullah rejected any suggestion of a leakage in their pipeline.
‘There is no leakage anywhere in my knowledge,’ said Iqbal. ‘The gas crisis is because of the LNG supply shortage,’ he said. On Tuesday, industrialists at places in Gazipur complained that the gas pressure fell down to one PSI.
Israq Spinning Mills managing director Fazlul Haq said that 50 out of 175 machines in four factory units were shut down because of a gas shortage on Tuesday. ‘It is hard to believe the authorities’ indifference toward us. They just do not pay heed to what we have to say,’ said Fazlul, who employs about 3,500 workers in his factory at Dhanua, Gazipur.
Fazlul, also vice-president of the BTMA, said that at least 40 factories were hit by the gas crisis in his area.
The factories in Gazipur had been used to a low gas pressure during day for long but now they do not get the full pressure in the pipeline even at night. ‘It cannot go on like this. Many of us are planning to close down,’ Mosharaf Group managing director Mohammad Mosharraf Hossain.
Energy and mineral resources secretary Anisur Rahman said that the crisis would lessen by Friday with the LNG supply increasing from around 600 million cubic feet per day to 800 mmcfd. ‘The recent Suez Canal crisis has delayed the LNG delivery to us leading to the crisis,’ he said.
In the 24 hours until 8:00 am on Tuesday, the gas supply was 3,213 mmcfd, far below the capacity of 3,760 mmcfd, with 651 mmcfd of LNG input. The overall gas demand in the country is roughly estimated to be about 4,000 mmcfd.
Bangladesh has the capacity to import 1,000 mmcfd LNG which the country could never fully use.
The LNG supply fell down to as low as 200 mmcfd in January after its price on the spot market had soared.
Households and industrialists have been complaining about an acute gas crisis since November 2020.
Hundreds of thousands of residents in Dhaka woke up to a severe gas crisis in late March after a Titas gas line had been punctured in road development works.
It took more than a day to repair the damage