A substantial portion of Bangladesh's electrical supply is met by the country's only hydroelectric plant, at Kaptai, which has a capacity of 230 MW; the rest of the country's power is produced by burning coal, gas, and oil. Except for a few private installations on the tea plantations and a few other industries, the power and energy sector is controlled by a government-managed corporation. In 2000, net electricity generation was 15 billion kWh, of which 92.5% came from fossil fuels and 7.5% from hydropower. In the same year, consumption of electricity totaled 12.5 billion kWh. Total installed capacity at the beginning of 2001 was 3.6 million kW. As of 2002, only about 18% of the population had access to electricity. In addition, the power supply is erratic, and blackouts are a chronic problem, as are delays in new plant construction.
In July 1997, Bangladesh contracted with four international power and refining companies for four new power plants with a combined capacity of 1,600 MW. The new plants were expected to double the country's electricity to 4,000 MW over five years. A large-capacity, gas-fired 360 MW plant at Haripur became operational in April 2001, and a second, similar plant was scheduled for completion at Meghnaghat in late 2002. In 2000 the United States agreed to provide technical assistance for construction of the planned Rooppur nuclear plant.
Bangladesh's major energy resource is natural gas, with reserves estimated at anywhere from 0.4 to 1.4 trillion cu m (14 to 49 trillion cu ft) in 2002; production totaled 9.048 million cu m (319 million cu ft) in 1999. With 20 natural gas fields throughout the country, the government controls the gas industry but began accepting private exploration bids in 1991. Foreign companies activie in the country's natural gas sector include Shell and Unocal. More than four-fifths of Bangladesh's natural gas is used to produce power and fertilizer.
Bangladesh has modest oil reserves of 56.9 million barrels; output was estimated at 1,600 barrels per day in 2002. The country has one oil refinery, located at Chittagong, with a capacity of 33,000 barrels per day. In 1991 Chinese consultants confirmed the existence of 300 million tons of good quality coal at the Boropukuria coal field in northern Diajpur District.