Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)– State-owned petroleum exploration firm BAPEX has taken a massive gas hunt program in the country’s untapped onshore gas blocks as it is going to appoint foreign contractor for the exploration works.

“The seismic survey at the untapped gas blocks in the country’s western region would be started next year. Foreign contractor will conduct seismic survey,” BAPEX Managing Director Murtoza Ahmed Farooq was quoted by the Financial Express (FE), a local newspaper, as saying.

He said: “we have already evaluated bids of foreign firms that participated in the tender invited a few months back.”

Cash-starved Bangladesh Petroleum Exploration and Production Company Limited (BAPEX) would invest more than BDT 2.00 billion to explore oil and gas at the block numbers 3, 6, 8 and 11 situated in greater Pabna, Rajshahi, Faridpur, Mymensingh and Manikganj districts.

“We are hopeful of finalizing selection of the foreign company to conduct two-dimensional seismic survey in the next month (December),” Mr Farooq said adding the contractor will conduct survey is block numbers 3, 6 and 8.

BAPEX has already conducted survey in block no. 11 and a partial area of block no. 8.

The foreign firm will conduct 2D seismic survey in 3100 line kilometers areas at the untapped blocks in western Bangladesh by December 2012.

Attaching highest priority to looking for gas in the untouched onshore areas, the government has decided to provide adequate money for the state-owned energy explorer, producers and suppliers aimed to ensure the country’s long-term energy security.

The caretaker government allocated BDT 32 billion in FY2009 for next seven years to mend the impoverished BAPEX, replace more than 20-year old two rigs and arrange adequate experts and tools.

Amid growing energy crunch in the country, the government has taken initiatives to boost its hydrocarbon exploration and production activities in the untapped areas in the country.

The Petrobangla has said the country’s proven gas reserve will start to deplete in 2012 before drying up completely in 2019 unless new discoveries are made.

Hundreds of factories have failed to go into production due to energy crunch, although the investors have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to build up the facilities.

The untapped block numbers 3 and 6 are situated Pabna, Manikganj and greater Faridpur areas and blocks 8 and 11 are situated in the greater Mymensingh areas.

BAPEX would conduct 2D survey, geophysical and geological studies and delineation of drillable subsurface structure in over 1,000 line kilometers areas in blocks 8 and 11 and 2,100 line kilometers at block numbers 3 and 6.

The country has so far not any gas and oil discovery in the western, northern and southwestern districts, which covered more than half of Bangladesh.

All the existing gas fields are situated in the north-east, eastern, and south-eastern parts of the country.

BBN/SI/AD-21Nov10-11:05 am (BST)