Dems seek urgent energy steps

The Democrats on Sunday pressured the government to move more quickly in drawing up an emergency operation plan to thwart a nationwide power shortage in April, when Myanmar starts its annual maintenance on gas platforms.

  • Published: 17/02/2013 at 07:47 PM
  • Newspaper section: breakingnews

Photo by Post Today

Democrat Party deputy leader Alongkorn Ponlabutr said demand for electricity use peaked during April every year, especially on April 4. The demand is expected to reach 26,500 MW this year, meaning the country’s power reserves would be only 2 percent. 

Mr Alongkorn warned if an accident or technical problem occurred at any power station, this could cause widespread blackouts across the country.   

The natural gas supply from Myanmar's Yadana and Yetagun blocks will be disrupted again from April 4-12 when electricity demand peaks at the height of the hot season, causing widespread concerns over power outages. 

The country stands to lose 25 percent of its total natural gas supply during the maintenance shutdown. 

Energy Minister Pongsak Raktapongpaisal said if the start of maintenance could be delayed for just a few days, say to April 7 or 8, it could make a big difference because power demand normally falls during the long Songkran holiday. 

Natural gas accounts for 70 percent of the fuel used in electricity generation in Thailand, which consumes about 4.4 billion cubic feet a day of gas. Supplies from the Yadana and Yetagun gas fields off the coast of Myanmar average about 1.1 billion cubic feet a day.

Mr Alongkorn said he was concerned about the fact that the government would allow the country’s power reserves to be left at only 2 percent and demanded it immediately take action to coordinate with Myanmar to handle the situation.    

He was also worried after Mr Pongsak said he would consider a state of emergency but admitted that he did not have a clear plan to handle the issue yet. 

He said the government’s planned power outage crisis response exercise on March 13 would not be enough and suggested that the drill be conducted earlier and more often. 

Energy policymakers must move quickly to seek cooperation from private and household sectors in preparing for a possible energy crisis and help save electricity effectively. Any necessary measures and campaigns should be introduced by the end of the month and continue until the end of April. 

The energy minister should talk to the Myanmar authorities himself, not just instruct civil servants at the level of director-general to do the job, he said. 

The Democrat deputy leader urged Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to discuss the matter with Myanmar's President Thein Sein. He said the government should ask Myanmar about sending a team to support the country’s maintenance operation which takes place at the same period every year.

The government should also speed up a plan to increase power reserves by using old power plants that had been shut down from next month to this month instead, he added. 

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