PTT plans B7 biodiesel trial on buses

Oil giant aims to prove quality of green fuel

PTT Plc, the national oil conglomerate, will hold a field trial of B7 biodiesel on public buses in Bangkok starting next month, with commercial sales planned soon.

Sarun Rungkasiri (left), senior executive vice-president of PTT, and Opart Petchmanee of the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority at PTT headquarters in Bangkok. APICHIT JINAKUL

Ten No.525 buses of the Bangkok Mass Transport Authority (BMTA) running the Min Buri-Nong Chok route will fill their tanks with B7 from April-June.

BMTA buses travel about 300 kilometres along Bangkok roads each day, and PTT expects to use 45,000 litres of B7 per month.

"The field trial will reveal any negative effects that may occur to the engine or fuel efficiency," said Sarun Rungkasiri, a senior executive vice-president of PTT.

"We will report the results to the Energy Ministry and car makers."

He said the results will help to establish B7 guidelines for use in vehicles.

The Energy Business Department will set B7 quality standards for biodiesel producers to comply with, and then commercial production of the fuel will soon follow.

"The trial is aimed at guaranteeing the quality of the new green biodiesel for vehicles," said Mr Sarun.

Biodiesel is one of the green fuels the government plans to use to cut fossil fuel consumption.

It was first introduced here in 2004, with a low percentage of methyl ester biofuel _ 2% mixed with diesel for the B2 designation.

The government increased the mix to 3% and 5% in 2008 and now 7%.

PTT is already working on the next stage, B20 or a 20% methyl ester mix.

Mr Sarun said Thailand's stocks of crude palm oil (CPO), a main ingredient of biofuel, has doubled to 400,000 tonnes from a year ago.

Each 1% of pure methyl ester biodiesel requires 10,000 tonnes of CPO per month.

BMTA director Opart Petchmanee said it is ready to comply with the government's policy on biodiesel in order to improve Bangkok's air quality.

The BMTA will pay 13 billion baht for 3,183 compressed natural gas (CNG) buses to replace its 2,800 diesel buses that consume 300,000 litres a day.

Only private buses have shifted to CNG since 2011.

Longer term, the BMTA will add more public biofuel buses instead of expanding the CNG fleet for fear of depleting domestic natural gas resources.

Mr Opart said once the country's resources dry out, Thailand will need to import gas in liquid form, which will be far more expensive than the local supply.

Shares of PTT closed yesterday on the Stock Exchange of Thailand at 336 baht, up three baht, in heavy trade worth 1.36 billion baht.

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Writer: Yuthana Praiwan
Position: Business Reporter