Dhaka: Energy-starved Bangladesh on Tuesday announced discovery of a new one trillion cubic feet (TCF) gas reserve in its northern Rashidpur field, in a major boost to the country's ailing power sector.

"This reserve will significantly help reduce the country's perennial gas crisis," Chairman of Petrobangla, Hussain Monsur said.

His comments came a day after the state-run energy explorer announced that a survey of national gas field of Rashidpur found an additional one trillion cubic feet reserve while the current reserve was estimated to be as high as 12 TCF.

The Petrobangla chief said this was a major development in a national gas field, which could lead to supply of gas in a cheaper price compared to that of the international oil companies.

Petrobangla announced the fresh discovery of gas following a 3D seismic survey conducted by Bangladesh Petroleum Exploration and Production Company Ltd (Bapex) in Rashidpur gas fields, spanning over an area of 325 square kilometres.

Bangladesh currently has a gas supply of about 2,000 mmcf per day against the demand for 2,500 mmcf, causing difficulties to gas-fired power generation.

There is an acute energy crisis as domestic demand has far outstripped supply, amid rapid economic growth. The country also stopped supply of gas to energy-guzzling new factories.

The Rashidpur field was discovered in 1960 and so far it has supplied 460 billion cubic feet (bcf) of gas to the national grid.

The new deposit was detected at the field's unexplored eastern part which is separated by a geological fault, officials said.

The government approved a fund of Tk 164 crore (Rs 107 crore) to conduct 3D seismic survey in Titas, Bakhrabad, Sylhet, Kailashtila and Rashidpur in October 2008.

Bapex has completed the surveys of Kailashtila and Sylhet gas fields and is presently processing the data for interpretation. It is also preparing to conduct another survey at Titas field.

Earlier this year, Bangladesh signed a Production Sharing Contract (PSC) with Huston-based ConocoPhillips for hydrocarbon exploration at "undisputed areas" in two deep sea blocks, amid Dhaka's dispute with India and Myanmar over the inner lines of its maritime boundary.

(Agencies)