In western Bangladesh there are substantial proven reserves of coal, but they remained unexploited in the late 1980s, largely because of the absence of major prospective users in the area. The options of constructing a large coal-fired power station or exporting coal to India were being considered in the late 1980s.
Bangladesh holds unknown quantities of commercially exploitable reserves of petroleum, both on land and offshore. In December 1986, oil was discovered in the Haripur gas field, south of the city of Sylhet, in northeastern Bangladesh. Lucky Well Number Seven promptly went into production at the rate of several hundred barrels per day, the first commercial oil production in Bangladesh. The crude was shipped by rail to the Eastern Refinery in Chittagong, where it was combined with other lighter imported crude oil for refining. The Eastern Refinery had been operating at just 66 percent of capacity and processing 34,000 barrels of crude per day. The domestic addition did not in itself have much of an impact on energy use in Bangladesh, but it was a beginning that fed hopes for further development.
In the late 1980s, the Bangladesh Oil, Gas, and Minerals Corporation was carrying on further test drilling in western Bangladesh as well as in the vicinity of the successful Haripur strike. The government formed a high-level committee under the minister of energy and mineral resources to formulate recommendations for stimulating oil exploration and extraction in Bangladesh. In 1987 the Soviet Union reportedly agreed to provide assistance for oil exploration, a broadening of its traditional cooperation in the field of power generation, transmission, and distribution.
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