Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)– The government has asked the US oil giant Chevron to augment daily gas output by at least 500 million cubic feet (mmcfd) by next year to meet the country’s mounting energy demand, officials said.

“We’ve asked Chevron to ramp up natural gas production from its gas fields at least by 500 mmcfd by 2012,” Petrobangla Chairman Dr Hussain Monsur was quoted by the Financial Express (FE), a local newspaper, as saying.

He expressed the hope that Chevron would increase the gas output from three of its producing gas fields to reach the targeted production.

Officials said Chevron’s additional gas production will help ease the country’s acute gas crisis.

Country’s average daily gas production is now hovering around 1980 mmcfd against the demand for over 2,500 mmcfd.

The state-owned Petrobangla has suspended new gas connections to industries since July 2009 across the country affecting the industrial growth badly.

Gas connections to households remained suspended since July 2010.

Gas rationing has been rampant and compressed natural gas (CNG) filling stations are kept closed four hours a day to cope with the gas supply shortfall.

The Chevron is now carrying out necessary exploration and drilling activities to enhance gas production as sought by the Petrobangla, a company official said.

He said the Chevron is now conducting drilling activities in Southern region under Block 7 and has already planned to undertake more drillings in Bibiyana and Moulavibazar gas fields to increase production.

Chevron has also been assigned to setting up a compression station at Muchai to support additional gas production from its fields.

BBN/SSR/AD-20Mar11-1:02 am (BST)