BM Energy (BD) Ltd, a private joint-venture (JV) firm of the Netherlands and Bangladesh, has secured licence to install around 400 LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) filling stations across the country, said officials.
The company has got the first licence from the government under the newly -adopted policy 'LP Gas Operational Licensing Policy, 2017, said Md Akramuzzaman, a deputy secretary of the Energy and Mineral Resources Division (EMRD) of the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources (MPEMR).
The firm would also have the authority to import, produce, store, transport and supply of LPG to households, commercial and industrial clients by appointing dealers or franchises. The JV firm would also be able to set up LPG terminals, auto-gas conversion plants and LPG bottling plants.
It would also be able to export bottled LPG or LPG in bulk quantity after attaining no objection certificate (NOC) from the energy ministry and necessary approval from the commerce ministry.
"We have awarded BM Energy the licence following its application to help meet the country's rising LPG demand in vehicles," said Mr Akramuzzaman.
"We got the licence from the government and will start soon building new LPG filling stations across the country," Mohammed Nurul Alam, chief executive officer of BM Energy (BD) Ltd, told the FE Thursday.
He said the company would build the auto-gas filling stations across the country in phases. "Currently, we don't have any LPG filling stations. But we provide LPG to households and industries," he said.
"Actually, we shall appoint franchisees who will build the LPG-filling stations. We shall provide them with LPG," he said.
"Currently, we are the largest importer of LPG in Bangladesh and import around 10,000 tonnes of LPG a month," he said.
BM Energy imports LPG from spot markets of different countries including Singapore, Vietnam and the Maldives, he said. The firm has a 6,500-tonne LPG storage capacity, which is 1,500 tonnes more than the government requirement for doing the LPG business, said Mr Alam.
Officials said in 2016, Bangladesh's LPG demand was around 400,000tonnes, up 33 per cent from 300,000 tonne a year earlier, and the government forecasts consumption would increase another 25 per cent to 500,000 tonne in 2017.
Interest in the use of LPG as an auto fuel is also increasing due to the growing competitiveness of the fuel compared to CNG and gasoline.
LPG, also known as auto-gas, is not cheaper than CNG despite last month's hike, but people are increasingly interested in running their vehicles on LPG to keep their engines protected, said Saidul Islam, director and CEO of LPG distributor Laugfs Gas Bangladesh.
LPG now sells at Tk 54 a liter on Bangladesh's domestic retail market.
The domestic diesel price in Bangladesh is Tk 65 a litre, while petrol and octane prices are at Tk 86 per litre and Tk 89 per litre respectively.
Demand for LPG in Bangladesh has seen strong growth since 2016 owing to the increasing suspension of natural gas connections and growth in the use of LPG as an auto fuel.
The energy ministry estimates that the actual demand could surpass 500,000 tonnes a year, with consumers using kerosene and wood as alternatives to LPG due to the lack of availability.
Currently, LPG is available only in cities and their adjacent areas in the country, but with the operations of new licencees, LPG will reach rural areas and will be available in most areas across the country, which in turn will raise consumption substantially, market insiders said.