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Thailand plans to liberalise gas pipeline business in the country

Thailand’s military government plans to liberalise the country’s gas pipeline business, which is monopolised by energy giant PTT Pcl, by the middle of 2015.

According to a statement from the National Energy Policy Council, chaired by Mr General Prayuth Chan-ocha, junta leader, state controlled PTT will spin off the business by transferring the pipeline and related assets to a new entity.

The liberalisation will give other companies access to the country’s gas pipelines and links to the LNG receiving terminal run by PTT.

Mr Areepong Bhoocha-Oom, permanent secretary of the Energy Ministry, said that “Initially, PTT will own 100% of the new entity but the Finance Ministry could take a stake.”

Analysts said that “PTT runs onshore and offshore gas pipelines running 3,715 kilometer and is building a fourth at an estimated cost of THB 39 billion. The pipeline business has contributed about 25% of PTT’s core earnings in the past three years.”

The policy makers also approved PTT’s long delayed plan to sell its 36% stake in Star Petroleum Refining Company in an initial public offering in the Q2 of 2015.

PTT has long wanted to dilute its holding in SPRC but a listing has been delayed for several years by negotiations with oil giant Chevron Corp, which owns 64% of SPRC.

In their first meeting since the army seized power in May, the energy policy makers also broadly approved a power development plan for 2015to 2036 and agreed to conclude details about opening a new round of petroleum concessions by the end of this year.

The policy makers will take three months to study details on power demand and what energy sources will be used for power generation under the new plan, in which alternative energy will account for 25% of the total.

Thailand, which currently uses natural gas to generate nearly 70% of its power, has been struggling to secure long-term energy supplies as growth in output and reserve replacement have not kept up with demand.

Source – Reuters

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