Tuesday, the power grid in Bangladesh malfunctioned, leaving a large portion of the country without power. The government’s power utility company reports that 130 million residents, over 80% of the country’s 164 million residents, were affected by the blackouts, per The Times of India.
Reuters reports that many factors contributed to the outages, but government data showed that “over a third of the country’s 77 gas-powered units were short of fuel.” The power outage lasted from 2 p.m. until 9 p.m.
In comparison, the Texas grid blackout in February 2021 took out power to 4.4 million homes, though it lasted for days, per watchdog organization American Oversight.
What is behind Bangladesh’s fuel shortage?
A currency that is dropping in value and meager foreign exchange reserves have made it very difficult for the country to import enough fuel, forcing many diesel plants to close and gas-run power stations to sit unused, according to The Times of India.
Additionally, the soaring prices of natural gas, made worse by the conflict in Ukraine, prompted authorities to impose power cuts through “loadshedding” which helps unburden the grid, according to Deutsche Welle.
Who was impacted by the blackouts?
The unexpected outage disrupted emergency services and health care at hospitals, and telecommunication services like internet and phone calls were down, reports the Dhaka Tribune.
The garment industry continues to suffer from these grid problems as well. The Associated Press reports that factories were affected by the blackout, and have been without power for four to 10 hours a day due to rationing measures.
The ready-made garment industry accounts for 84% percent of Bangladesh’s exports, which makes the country one of the largest garment exporters, according to a report by McKinsey.
Bangladesh’s power problem going forward
The rising prices of natural gas that power many countries in the region have significantly impacted the availability of fuel. According to Bloomberg, Pakistan implemented rolling blackouts and has been forced to increase power bills significantly, while some gas deliveries to India have been diverted to European customers.
Reuters reports that the U.S. has approached energy markets to ask for diversions of shipments to Europe to help lessen tensions caused by Moscow.