Bangladesh’s long-awaited single-point mooring (SPM) project, designed to efficiently pump and siphon imported crude oil to a storage facility, is now prepared for its inauguration in Bangladesh.
Located approximately 9 kilometers southwest of Matarbari in Moheshkhali, tankers will directly unload petroleum onto the floating buoy in the deep sea once operations commence.
The project comes at an implementation cost of around Tk 83.41 billion and is scheduled to be inaugurated later this year, with approximately 97 percent of the work completed, as reported by bdnews24.com.
Monjed Ali, a project official, emphasized the progress made, stating that the time to offload a tanker will be reduced to 48 hours from the current 11 days. Following the implementation of the SPM, lighter ships will no longer be necessary for carrying oil to the storage facility, leading to significant foreign exchange savings for the government by reducing transport costs and wastage.
The SPM project is the result of a government-to-government agreement between Bangladesh and China. Eastern Refinery Ltd, a subsidiary of Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation, is responsible for implementing the project in collaboration with China Petroleum Pipeline Engineering Company Limited.
The project includes the construction of six storage tanks and pumping stations over an area of approximately 90 acres, with three tanks designated for refined oil and three for crude oil. Each refined storage tanker has a capacity of 50,000 cubic meters, while the crude storage tanker can hold up to 30,000 cubic meters.
Crude oil and diesel will be unloaded from the SPM through two separate pipelines, with both products then pumped to Eastern Refinery through two additional pipelines from the Moheshkhali storage tank.
Currently, the country imports over 6.0 million tonnes of fuel by sea. However, limitations in infrastructure at Chattogram Port and navigability issues along the Karnaphuli channel hinder mother vessels from offloading fuel directly. As a result, tankers are anchored in the deep sea, unloading crude oil through smaller vessels, a process taking around 11 days for a tanker with a capacity of 100,000 DWT.
To address the challenges posed by the time-consuming, risky, and costly unloading method, the SMP project was initiated in 2015. Although the project was originally slated for completion in December 2018 at a cost of Tk 49.4 billion, it experienced delays and cost adjustments, with the outlay rising to Tk 71.3 billion. ERL authorities predict a further increase in costs due to the rise in the value of the US dollar.
The SMP project aims to transform the efficiency of crude oil imports, facilitating a quicker unloading process and leading to substantial cost savings for the government. A trial run of the SMP was conducted in July, and while a minor accident caused a delay, a report has been submitted to the ministry for consideration, and authorities remain optimistic about its transformative impact on the country’s oil import capabilities. The project is expected to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina sometime this year.