New Thai energy ministry begins consolidation of power sector

Nov 27, 2002 01:00 AM

As one of its first major tasks, Thailand's newly formed Ministry of Energy is consolidating operations of its various departments that had until recently been working under different ministries, a senior energy ministry official said. Other immediate areas of concern include reducing the country's dependence on oil imports and evolving a long-term energy development and security plan, he said. At the most basic level is assimilating the energy sector-related departments that have been grouped under the new ministry.
"[Until Oct 4 this year] We had the National Energy Policy Office and Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand under the prime minister's office. And the Petroleum Authority of Thailand and the Department of Mineral Resources was under the industry ministry," the official noted.

The energy ministry is also looking at ways to reduce Thailand's dependence on oil imports by developing indigenous resources, the official said. "We are looking at moving away from oil products and towards natural gas and also developing our renewable energy sources."
Thailand's natural gas reserves are estimated at 32-tcf. But the country has to import almost all its crude oil needs. Meanwhile, the first target for the switch to natural gas was the transportation sector, the official said. The energy ministry had asked PTT to increase the number of natural gas filling stations in and around Bangkok to 100 by 2007 from the current five, he said.

The ministry is also promoting the use of ethanol-blended fuel for vehicles and is asking more industries to switch to using gas from oil products. "We do not think the move away from oil products to natural gas will bring down refineries' profit margins," the official said. "There exists sufficient demand for refined products in [Thailand's export markets] Vietnam and Myanmar," he added. "In fact, one of the visions of Energy Minister Pongthep Thepkanchana is to look at energy development in the context of the ASEAN region as a whole and not in isolation," the official said. "We have to cooperate with our neighbours for the long-term development and security of our energy resources."

The ministry is also keen on furthering the trans-ASEAN gas pipeline project and the ASEAN power grid project. The trans-ASEAN gas pipeline project aims to link gas demand and utilization centres with a pipeline infrastructure tapping gas fields in the region.

Source: Platts
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