The energy giant PTT Plc has doubled liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports next month to avert possible power outages during the scheduled supply disruption of natural gas from Myanmar.
Panu Sutthirat, the executive vice-president for natural gas supply and marketing, said two LNG shipments of 70,000 tonnes each will arrive in April _ one at the beginning of the month and the other near the end.
The company would normally receive only one shipment during the month.
It estimates its LNG imports will reach a maximum of 2.4 million tonnes this year.
PTT holds a quarter of the Yadana gas field in Myanmar's Gulf of Martaban, of which France's Total is the operator.
With a capacity of 650 million cubic feet per day, the block is scheduled for a platform maintenance shutdown from April 5-14.
Together with the Yetagun block, Myanmar supplies 1.1 billion cfpd to Thailand, as gas accounts for nearly 70% of the country's power generation.
The platform maintenance will cut Thailand's power generating capacity by 4,100 megawatts, down from a total capacity of 31,600 MW, as some power plants cannot be switched to bunker oil and diesel.
However, the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat) yesterday said it believes its power reserve will be sufficient during the gas disruption. The utility plans to raise the reserve from the expected 767 MW on April 5 to 1,058 MW.
"If we can reach that level for the reserve, then the possibility of blackouts during the gas disruption will be eased," said Thatree Riewcharoen, Egat's director of corporate communications.
Mr Panu said imported LNG is now quoted at US$18-20 per 1 million British thermal units compared with $10 for gas sourced from the Gulf of Thailand.
LNG prices have risen in recent months from last year's average of $15 due to high demand in China, South Korea, Japan and Latin America.
Mr Panu said Total sent a letter to PTT confirming the maintenance will finish no later than April 14.
'We believe the maintenance will finish on schedule, given that it won't be during the monsoon season, when strong winds affect repairs. In the past, no delays were reported," said Mr Panu.
PTT also asked Total to change the scheduled maintenance shutdown for next year from May to the Songkran holidays, when power demand declines.
Mr Panu said the gas supply will be more secure when Myanmar's M9 or Zawtika block starts operation near year-end with an initial volume of 240 million cfpd.
Output can be raised to a maximum of 300 million.
Samerjai Suksumek, deputy director-general of the Energy Planning and Policy Office, insisted the energy situation will be manageable this year but added long-term fuel diversification is needed to avoid a repetition of such threats.
"This happens every year to some degree," he said.
Under the new power development plan, policy planners target reducing gas dependence for power generation from 70% now to 45% by 2030.
About the author
- Writer: Nareerat Wiriyapong
Position: Business Reporter