Tasco raises view on stable crude

Tasco raises view on stable crude

SET-listed Tipco Asphalt Plc (Tasco) has increased sales volume to 1.6 million tonnes for 2018, thanks to stabler crude oil delivery from Venezuela.

The asphalt is refined from crude oil, and Tasco relies heavily on imports from Venezuela.

Tasco is Thailand's largest asphalt maker.

Managing director Chaiwat Srivalwat said Venezuela's political instability in the first half of the year led to several interruptions in crude oil delivery.

"Earlier Tasco projected sales volume of 1.4 million tonnes this year," he said. "Deliveries have returned to normal in the second half. Tasco's supplier from Venezuela has confirmed seven shipments here."

Mr Chaiwat said 2019 sales volume will reach a forecast 2 million tonnes after Tasco suffered some of its lowest revenue since 2014, when a similar situation occurred in Venezuela.

"Although the political tension has yet to calm, there is no sign of crude oil delivery delay or interruption," he said.

For 2019, Tasco is planning to expand capacity for asphalt refining from 30,000 to 60,000 barrels a day.

Tasco needs to diversify to sour crude oil production resources such as those in Brazil and the Middle East in order to balance raw material supply.

"We have a consultant firm conducting a feasibility study, but a conclusive decision and a budget have yet to be made," Mr Chaiwat said. "Tasco also plans a new asphalt storage in Terengganu, Malaysia, where the previous unit suffered from a fire in July and Tasco scaled down the 2018 sales volume."

The fire incident investigation and damage claims are expected to be concluded in the second quarter of 2019, but Tasco has already made a 345-million-baht damage provision for broken assets and business interruption.

Mr Chaiwat said the global asphalt price will rise in the next two years because most oil refineries in Asia will revamp their production units to comply with a new oil standard for lower sulphur in marine oil mandated by the International Maritime Organization.

With demand for asphalt in the region growing by an average of 3-5% annually, prices are expected to rise in line with the situation.

Mr Chaiwat said the government has a policy to blend rubber with asphalt for road construction nationwide in a bid to tackle a slump in rubber prices. The measure has seen sales grow by six times since 2015.

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