Case: BM Energy, Bangladesh
The scope of supply
An area that was once nothing but fields and rice paddies now buzzes with the sound of trucks, workers, and a busy carousel moving thousands of LPG cylinders every day. With the Bay of Bengal on one side, and fields and forests on the other, the BM Energy LPG plant in Barabkunda, Bangladesh looks almost out of place. But this filling plant tells a story of entrepreneurial spirit and not backing down from challenging conditions.
A wealth of opportunity
The demand for LPG in Bangladesh has been booming in recent years, and BM Energy was among the first to grasp this opportunity. In order to establish a foothold in this rapidly expanding market, they chose Kosan Crisplant(today known as MAKEEN Energy) as their partner. The mission? To establish a filling plant in the rural area of Barabkunda. BM Energy chose a solution of one 24 stand carousel and an industry filling line, and Kosan Crisplant rose to the occasion. In 2014, the plant became operational, initially running only a few hours a day in keeping with demand at the time.
The filling equipment was not BM Energy's biggest investment in this project. Acquiring a sufficient amount of cylinders was the biggest expenditure. Starting an LPG business required an initial purchase of large numbers of cylinders, and at roughly US$20 per cylinder, this is a sizable initial investment in a developing market. Fortunately, BM Energy was not deterred by this risk.
Pipeline to success
With no harbour near the filling plant, and no space on the harbour in nearby Chittagong, an alternative way to transport the gas to the filling plant had to be found. By constructing an almost 2km pipeline leading into the sea, with an anchor and a buoy at the other end, ships are now able to offload LPG directly to the plant while at sea. That way, access to the LPG is ensured, and the gas is stored in two spherical tanks with a capacity of 1500 tons each, ensuring a steady filling operation at all times.
The plant's proximity to the sea, less than a kilometre away, also presented a considerable risk of flooding. To make things worse, the building site was situated almost at sea level. Even with the protection of a levee, the danger of losing equipment to a levee breach was too severe to dismiss.
The solution came in the form of sand. Lots of it. By pumping sand into the building site, the site was elevated enough that a flood would turn the filling plant into an island - surrounded by water, but untouched and undamaged. With this solution, the filling plant is able to operate without interruption from Mother Nature.
A bold investment pays off
Thanks to long lasting, high-performing equipment, trusting cooperation, and the plant owners' initiative and courage, the filling plant has experienced immense success, and BM Energy's profits and production have steadily grown. After only a couple of years, the plant now has a rotating stock of cylinders reaching seven digits - a clear indication that the business is flourishing.
The filling equipment is busier than ever, now being operated in multiple team shifts producing approx. 1200 cylinders per hour. In order to keep up with demand, BM Energy has even called upon Kosan Crisplant to deliver another pair of storage tanks in spring 2017. The story of BM Energy's plant in Barabkunda is a testament to the power of being in the right place at the right time and having the courage to be a first mover.