Interviews

Toshiyuki Shimbori, CEO Omera Petroleum Ltd.

Toshiyuki Shimbori has thirty years of career in the energy sector. He had his Bachelor of law from Waseda University, Tokyo Japan in 1987. He is the Chief Executive Officer with all responsibilities of a CEO of Omera Gas Limited, a joint venture between Omera Petroleum Limited and Saisan Co. Ltd. since December 2016. Earlier during February 20-15 to November 2016, he was a Deputy Manager of Saisan Co. Ltd, a leading Gas distributor from Japan. He was the Manager of Sojitz Petroleum Co (Singapore) Pte Ltd; Assistant General Manager Sojitz Corporation, Japan (former Nissho Iwai Corporation); Managing Director, Nissho Iwai Petroleum Co( Singapore) Pte Ltd.; Deputy General Manager, Nissho Iwai Saudi Ariba Al- Khobar Office.

Omera Petroleum Ltd. (OPL), a subsidiary of MJL Bangladesh Ltd, is the largest operator in the Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) sector of Bangladesh with a combined capacity of 100,000 MT p.a. In partnership with European energy giant BB Energy, the company has installed state of the art LPG import and storage terminal with a capacity of 3,600 MT at Mongla, Bagerhat.
Apart from the main installation in Mongla, OPL has established 3 other satellite filling and bottling stations located at Ghorashal (Central), Bogra (Northern Belt), and Chittagong (Southern Belt) respectively to ensure convenience and availability of LPG to its distributors and customers.
Besides using a massive fleet of LPG bowsers to move the LPG from Mongla to its satellite plants, OPL has successfully commissioned an LPG Barge ‘MV Omera Princess’ with a capacity of 300 MT to transport LPG through waterways for the first time in Bangladesh.
Omera Petroleum Ltd. is dedicated to running a safe and environmentally responsible operation and making a significant contribution to Bangladesh’s sustainable economic prosperity as well as energy equilibrium. Toshiyuki Shimbori of shared his insight into the growing industry.

With only 6% of the population in Bangladesh pipelined to natural gas, the gap between its demand and supply is increasing continuously. What possible reasons can be accounted for the existence of such a gap?
There are a number of reasons for this increasing gap. The primary reasons include: the decline of a natural gas supply in Bangladesh, the growing demand due to economic growth and the lack of alternative energy sources in the past.

How can the use of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) benefit people against the backdrop of energy scarcity?
There are many advantages of LPG already recognized internationally including my country Japan. LPG cylinder can reach anywhere, and anyone without installing gas pipeline under the ground. You can obtain the gas by buying one cylinder right now. In Japan, we have many earthquakes. Even during such disasters, people can use LPG cylinder while natural gas pipeline or electricity are stopped. LPG is imported and ample supply is available in the world. There is already existing distribution set up in Bangladesh; many more operators are coming in the market. It is readily available fuel. LPG is still new fuel for Bangladesh. So, we still need to do promotion, and educate people to understand the benefits of LPG.

What environmental benefits and hazards are associated with the use of LPG?
The environmental benefits are use of clean energy compared with other petroleum products and coal. Second, there is no need to make major civil work. One cylinder will do. You can immediately cook or boil water with one cylinder even there are big natural disasters such as fire or earthquake. LPG can reach to anyone at anywhere at once. First, for safety, there are many safety devices such as shut off the system in case of earthquake or emergency and gas leak alarm in the case of a leak.

Could you explain the recent initiative of gas price hike for domestic pipe gas to equalize the LPG usage in the market?
In Bangladesh, natural gas has been produced and sold at a very low price. The industrial price sold is $1/mmbtu, however, the international price is $5-6/mmbtu level. As far as I know, there is only one country who sells natural gas cheaper than Bangladesh, that is Saudi Arabia where it is sold at $0.75/mmbtu. Therefore, I think it is very natural that government tried to increase the price of natural gas. Bangladesh has only one domestic source, i.e., Eastern Refinery which only produces 15,000mt per year. So, the rest of LPG will be imported.

What role can the Government of Bangladesh play in promoting the use of LPG? What are possible challenges faced by the LPG industry?
The government has decided on the energy policy and it is expected to be implemented without fail. It means that the government will have to stop new gas connection to houses, factory (except the economic zone) and CNGs for autogas. The regulations about stable supply, safety measures have to be discussed and implemented. The assurance of a steady supply include compulsory stock, price issues, safety controls, etc. Those have to be addressed and implemented from now.

Apart from its usage in households, what other sectors can LPG contribute to?
LPG can be used for autogas, chemical feed, fuel for the ship, power generation, and boiler fuel. You must realize that LPG is strong fuel under the natural disaster. In my country we had a big earthquake and Tsunami in 2011, LPG was the fastest available fuel. This demonstrates a versatile source of energy that is adaptable and safe.

Recently the conglomerate Beximco announced the plan of setting up its first Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG)-based power plant in the country. To what extent can a measure as such help to drag the country out of energy crisis in the future?
Bangladesh is facing a paradigm shift in the energy sector. Bangladesh will have to depend on imported fuel unless the nation finds a big new reservoir or starts using domestic coal. There are the options of crude oil, LPG, LNG or coal. LPG is the best choice for Bangladesh as the country have existing import facilities and distribution network, it is environmentally friendly, it is proven as safe fuel in the world, and Bangladeshi are habituated and familiar with gas. LPG will play a huge role in Bangladesh from now.

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