Energy giant PTT Plc will continue to suffer heavy losses in the compressed natural gas (CNG) business, with accumulated losses reaching 100 billion baht next year from 62 billion at present.
The retail price of CNG was capped at 8.50 baht a kilogramme from 2005-11 before rising to 10.55 baht in 2011, which was still 40% below cost.
Executive vice-president Vichai Pornkiratiwat said PTT expects a loss of 20 billion baht this year and another 20 billion next year, bringing losses since its CNG business started commercial operation in 2005 to 100 billion baht.
The company is allocating 5 billion baht to expand its gas refill stations nationwide, serving rising demand in the transport sector. It will add seven gas refill stations to raise its nationwide total to 490.
PTT also plans to upgrade services by relocating pumps nearer to the main natural gas pipelines, the better to serve the largest CNG consumers - truck operators.
Last year, Thailand's CNG demand rose by 40% to 8,000 tonnes a day from 6,767 tonnes in 2011.
The local CNG price has been only a fourth of petrol's since 2006, although the number of CNG-compatible vehicles has surged 24.7% from 300,600 units to 374,900 last year.
CNG passenger cars rose by 28% to 294,000 units, trucks 24% to 46,000 units, taxis 15% to 68,000 units and buses 9% to 12,000 units.
Shares of PTT closed yesterday on the SET at 340 baht, up three baht, in trade worth 978 million baht.
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Writer: YUTHANA PRAIWAN