Energy, energy, gas, gas, electricity, electricity, buzz buzz buzz…
It rules my daily life here, or it would, if I weren’t sitting in my sister’s cushy apartment feeding off the diesel generator that goes on every time the power goes out (luckily for me, the only thing I have to give up is Air Conditioning. Sweet! Doin’ my part for global warming!).
And it goes out a lot. Like for hours a day every day like clockwork. During peak hours. The truth of the matter is that Bangladesh can’t produce enough electricity to keep up with demand. It’s like a vicious cycle. I remember when I was a kid, lets say 25 years ago, the power used to go out just as often — and no generators. Favorite cartoons would get cut off, never to be seen again.
Oh Liono, how ever did you defeat Mummra that one time? Did Snarf help?
But in the 1990s, power generation crept up, as more power stations were built, and the outages got a bit more bearable.
Today we’re back at unbearable.
Except every apartment building has diesel generators, which whir into action every time the power goes out, and spew diesel fumes into the air, to add to the city’s pollution problem. But I hear diesel burns clean, so lets hope for the best. Is it the right kinda diesel to burn clean? Turns out, it isn’t. Chalk one up for lung cancer. Dhaka got out of one air pollution problem in the early 2000s to be on the brink of falling into another.
Not to mention the actual outages… I heard an estimate that power outages cost Bangladesh in 2% annual GDP. Think about that — that’s just an exhorbitant amount of waste in a country where 45% of the population lives beneath the poverty level. If energy shortages cost 2% imagine how much is lost to corruption…4%? 5%? Were it not fucked up, Bangladesh’s economic growth rate would rival China’s.
Not to mention the increased petroleum imports into the country due to the additional need for diesel fuel — a country, that theoretically at least should be able to at least provide its own power generation needs through its ample natural gas reserves.
But even as new power plants are being built, often by incompetent idiots who have no previous experience in the energy sector, to the tune of long delays and wasted cash — EVEN as these plants are being built, we’re going through a natural gas shortage. In other words, there’s nothing to power the plants. A natural gas shortage that supposedly is “due to rising demand and the failure of past governments to find new sources, energy officials said on Sunday.” It can’t be helping that natural gas prices, along with oil prices, have plummeted recently.
Why should the oil companies break their backs looking for the shit now, when they can just wait it out until a higher price increases their profit margin. Oil companies are probably the ONLY sector of the modern post-Bush global economy that haven’t been affected that much by our current recession. They have been hedging their bets for a while, makin’ bank. So they’re content to sit around and wait for the price to go up, and let us here in Dhaka sweat it out or use up the diesel that they’re selling us anyway.
Summer’s around the corner and its getting hotter every day. The generator just went on. Time to go for a ride in my 2000 cc AC car and burn some more gas.