Bangladesh and the US aim to advance energy cooperation

Bangladesh Prime Minister’s Adviser for Power, Energy, and Mineral Resources Dr. Tawfiq-E-Elahi Chowdhury, BB, termed the private sector the main driving force in the Bangladesh-US relations on energy and power. He was speaking at an ‘Energy Roundtable’ organized by the US-Bangladesh Business Council (USBBC) in Washington, DC, on July 29. This was the first in-person meeting of the Business Council since its formal launching in April this year.

Adviser Chowdhury, in his remarks, recognized the important role of the US companies in Bangladesh’s energy and power sectors and welcomed their further contributions in these areas. He also encouraged them to invest in oil and gas explorations in the country, particularly the offshore ones. The Adviser expressed the Bangladesh Government’s willingness to partner with the US private sectors in the research and development of uninterrupted and affordable renewable energy sources. He also urged the US companies to explore the prospects of nuclear power modular reactors in Bangladesh. He mentioned that Bangladesh had been working closely with its neighbors India, Nepal, and Bhutan on regional power distribution, and the US companies may explore opportunities for investment there.

President of the USBBC, Ms. Nisha Biswal, made welcome remarks at the Roundtable expressing the deep commitments of her organization to advance the two countries’ energy partnership by supporting Bangladesh’s growing energy needs. She also apprised the Advisor about the upcoming ‘Energy Taskforce’ of the USBBC to build a knowledge base for expanding energy cooperation with Bangladesh. The Roundtable was also attended by Bangladesh Ambassador to the USA, M Shahidul Islam, senior management officials from several US companies including Chevron, Cheniere, Excelerate Energy, ExxonMobil, GE Power, SunEdison, as well as officials from the US Chamber, USBBC, and Bangladesh Embassy in Washington, DC.

Earlier, Adviser Chowdhury held a meeting with Acting Assistant Secretary of the US Department of State’s Bureau of Energy Resources Ambassador Virginia E. Palmer to discuss Bangladesh-US energy cooperation. During the meeting, Ambassador Palmer expressed her government’s willingness to work with Bangladesh to deepen its energy cooperation, particularly in renewable energy and nuclear power production. Mentioning climate change as an important component of the Biden-Harris Administration’s energy policy, Ambassador Palmer praised Bangladesh’s recent move to cancel ten coal-powered plants in the country.

Appreciating the US proposals, Adviser Chowdhury emphasized exploring the possibility of joint research and development projects by the two countries on renewable energy storage and nuclear power modular reactors to ensure uninterrupted power at an affordable cost in a country like Bangladesh. He further mentioned that having a balanced mix of energy sources is critical for Bangladesh and its development as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is committed to providing electricity to all citizens. Adviser Chowdhury also discussed the potentials of South Asia for regional power distribution with Ambassador Palmer and welcomed any US projects that would meet the needs of the countries of the region vis-à-vis energy sharing.

In the morning, Adviser Chowdhury attended a session at the Washington, DC-based leading think tank Atlantic Council on Bangladesh’s energy policy and outlook. During the conversation, Adviser Chowdhury appraised the round table of the various initiatives in the energy and power sector including renewable energy under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Bangladesh’s leadership role in climate change adaptation and creative mitigation.

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