Has Bangladesh spotted ‘gold mine’ in Bay of Bengal?

Dhaka: Bangladesh has all the opportunities to tap into a potential “gold mine” in the form of huge gas hydrates, and several hundred species of seaweed discovered in the Bay of Bengal, an official said.

The country has found the presence of around 17 to 103 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of ice-like hydrate deposits containing huge amounts of methane, the Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.

“We hope Bangladesh will soon enter a new era of energy through the extraction of gas hydrates,” said Bangladesh Foreign Minister A.K. Abdul Momen told IANS on Wednesday.

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While Bangladesh at COP26 committed to gradually cut down its fossil fuel usage and go for green energy, the country still needs fossil fuel like natural gas in the next two decades in order to ensure a smooth transition and energy security. Now, the discovery of gas hydrates has come as a blessing.

With the approval of the prime minister, a group led by the Maritime Affairs Unit was formed in 2018 to analyse data obtained from the surveys conducted earlier in the Bay of Bengal to determine gas hydrate reserves in the waters of Bangladesh.

“Undoubtedly, the survey results are very promising for Bangladesh. Getting such a huge reserve of gas hydrates is a watershed moment for Bangladesh. Also mentioned, such huge gas hydrates as a source of environment-friendly fuel will help meet future energy demand,” he said.

In 2018-21, the Maritime Affairs Unit of the foreign ministry in association with the UK analysed two surveys conducted on the sea during 2007-10 and presumed plenty of marine resources in the exclusive economic zone.

Gas hydrate is a crystalline solid formed of water and gas looking like ice and contains huge amounts of methane.

Rear Admiral Khurshed Alam (retd), secretary of Maritime Affairs Unit of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told IANS: “It would be possible to determine the actual reserves of gas hydrates if a complete seismic survey is conducted in the country’s entire marine zone.”

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