Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Poor man and a country


After dieing of his father, a poor man came to know that he inherits a good number of gold. In a death bed statement the father told him, he has hidden the gold somewhere under the house but could not manage to tell the location. The man became very happy and started to have sweet dreams of future. He began to search all through his home compound and found a clear mark of hiding something underneath beside the mango tree. of But then he remembered, `Oh no! I have no shovel to dig!’

Okay, no problem. He went for hiring a man with a shovel to help him out. There were some men with shovels in the market. They seem very much united. Four of men with shovels had talk with him.

`Yes, I can do that alright. I will dig the place for you. But what’s my profit?’

`I will pay you an hourly rate.’

‘That’s very fine. But… I have another proposal. Whatever found in digging, you must give me 80 percent. And… if your tree is cut while I am digging you can never complain. Is that alright?’

‘No its not alright. How can you expect that?’ The poor man exclaimed.

‘Its up to you. You don’t have the shovel, don’t know how to dig. What the big deal with sharing! If you don’t share, you can’t dig those alone. Whatever there is will remain there forever. Think it seriously.’

The poor man became very depressing. What should he do now!

Dear Reader lets have a break in our story now.


Bangladesh, in different definition, is defined differently; Developing, Moderate Muslim, Least Developed, Poor… etc. But what all will agree that it is not that rich in natural energy resources. Oil or gas reserves are not sufficient enough to be calm for next 50 years. Already it is facing 250 million cubic feet in shortage of gas everyday. The government forecasts the nation's current gas reserves will run out by 2014-2015 at the present rate of consumption. Bangladesh is believed to have 15 trillion cubic feet natural gas reserves. Compare it to US proven reserve of 211.09 trillion cubic feet. So it is pretty much important for Bangladesh to ensure the best use of it. Natural gas in Bangladesh was discovered in the country in 1955 and production started in 1960. From 1961-1970, the country's total gas consumption was only 67 billion cubic feet (Bcf), which rose to 279 Bcf the following decade from 1971-80, 1.06 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) during 1981-90 and thereafter 2.49 Tcf during 1991-2000. Consumption skyrocketed but the production potentiality did not.

Bangladeshi state owned corporation PetroBangla have enough wisdom and capacity to trace out where the gas can be found. But she must dig it out before using. Only problem there is, she has no modern equipments or enough finance to invest. She has to go looking for companies those can do that for her.

Bangladesh has been divided into 23 blocks for gas exploration in 2001 and, among them, the 8 richest blocks were allotted to the International Companies. They invested 52 per cent of the country's total foreign direct investment in the energy sector, and there has been a Production sharing contract (PSC) with the Companies. And that PSC was designed, keeping people in the dark, in favor of the Companies to make the best profit possible ever. Guess how was the sharing! It is 80-20; 80 for the Companies. Production costs has been demonstrated very high without any satisfactory logic. Companies could not be brought under book for sever accidents caused by them due to the PSC.


And now the Bay of Bengal has been awarded to multinational companies and PSCs are on the process to sign following the previous model. Ireland-based company Tullow Bangladesh and US oil company Conoco Phillips South Asia New Ventures Ltd has been allowed to explore gas from beneath the sea. Tullow and Conoco has got four and five years respectively to explore and eight years both for production. Petrobangla will negotiate with the two companies for signing separate PSCs. The model PSC suggests following Bangladesh Arbitration Act 2001 for solving disputes between the PSC signatories, instead of going to an international court.

That unbelievable step by the Bangladesh government has not gone unchallenged. People of Bangladesh got severely beaten by police while protesting that move.


Meeting the demand of newer energy source is always a challenge for a state. Common people will keep using electricity, gas and other daily necessaries without giving a second of thinking where those come from. But the state that has scarcity of natural resources will have to think a thousand ways and finding the suitable one to proceed. Its not surprising to know that the global politics is now governed by energy sources. Every country ties or has bones of contentions with others for a reason rooted to oil or gas. Middle East is an example to the world. A naturally resourceful country always be a victim and get involved in some kind of trouble. And then comes the big brothers in action; some to grasp, some to rescue. In the consequence, the country suddenly finds out, it has lost its full control over its oil or gas.

But what about countries with little resources? The war between the powers to `oil hunt’ leads to a eternal journey. Resourceful countries could be rich and hard to bend but poor country, even it has a little energy, can be treated softer as a target. So country like Bangladesh cannot hide her tiny resources for herself. Whether the resources are located, under the earth or sea, it must be digging out and be used for global business.

What’s the problem with digging gas or oil out! Letting those lie under ground does not benefit a country or its people- so the government of Bangladesh says.

Dear reader, here is the relevance of our main story of the poor man.


The poor man said, ‘Okay. It seems I can’t afford to hire you. I can look more and wait couple of months, no harm. In the mean time I can go to market, try to buy a shovel or learn how to dig. And then I can bargain with others so that 90 percent of my resource can be kept to mine. Bye Bye.’

Those four men were very much surprised to hear that. They thought the poor man will never dare to do something on his own.

The story has a happy ending here but the Bangladesh story don’t.

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