Energy Ministry introduces outline for dynamic growth
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Energy Ministry introduces outline for dynamic growth

10 plans to propel 3 economic goals

Retail prices for gasohol and diesel have been cut by another baht per litre during the long holiday period. (Photo by Somchai Poomlard)
Retail prices for gasohol and diesel have been cut by another baht per litre during the long holiday period. (Photo by Somchai Poomlard)

The Energy Ministry has announced 10 urgent action plans for 2020 to support living expenses for Thais, maintain the country's energy security and become a regional leader in the sector.

Energy Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong said the ministry has to carry out several missions next year to ensure dynamic growth in the economy.

A new round of licensing for petroleum exploration and production (E&P) is expected in 2020 after 12 years of postponement, he said.

Thailand last granted an E&P licence under Round 21 in 2007, with 29 licences delayed since because of political instability and economic slowdowns.

Many advocates have called for a delay and revision of the country's petroleum laws from an E&P concession to a production-sharing contract.

In June 2017, two revised laws -- the Petroleum Act and Petroleum Income Tax Act -- were enacted. The government then opened bidding for the Erawan and Bongkot gas fields in 2018.

Mr Sontirat said the second mission is to resume negotiations between Thailand and Cambodia on offshore overlapping claims areas (OCA) in the Gulf of Thailand. The talks began at the latest Asean Ministers on Energy Meeting in September.

"The two parties agreed to resume discussions on OCA development as soon as possible to mutually benefit from petroleum resources in the Gulf," he said.

Thailand and Cambodia have claimed sovereignty under the OCA, covering 27,000 square kilometres. Both countries signed an agreement in 2001 to set a joint-development regime over OCA certain areas and attempt to demarcate a maritime border.

Thailand suspended the agreement in 2009.

The ministry's Energy for All scheme for community-owned power projects expects to grant new operating licences in the first half of 2020, said Mr Sontirat.

"Participation from interested investors will begin soon and previous projects under the Quick Win initiative will be the first to progress under this scheme," he said.

"The government plans to purchase 700 megawatts of power generation under Energy for All during 2020-21 and estimates total investment of roughly 70 billion baht from public and private sectors."

Mr Sontirat said the ministry is promoting Thailand as a hub for liquefied natural gas and electricity trade in Southeast Asia. Revised regulations to facilitate these plans will be initiated the first half of 2020 and implemented in the second half, he said.

The government's electric vehicle scheme to promote the expansion of charging outlets and conclude new power tariffs for charging business is also on the agenda, said Mr Sontirat.

Yesterday, the ministry's Fuel Oil Fund Board approved cutting the retail prices for eight types of gasoline and diesel by another baht per litre during the New Year period to reduce fuel costs for Thais during the long holiday.

Previously, the one-baht reduction was set for biodiesel B10 and gasohol E20. The effective period runs from Dec 26 to Jan 10.

As a result of the new cut in retail prices, the Fuel Oil Fund, previously named the State Oil Fund, has to reduce levy collections for benzene and gasohol E10 and increase subsidies for gasohol E20, E85 and biodiesel.

"The fund will have higher expenses of 1.38 billion baht during the 16-day period," said Mr Sontirat.

The fund is divided into two accounts: the oil account had cash of 43.4 billion baht as of Tuesday. The cooking gas account remained in the red to the tune of 5 billion baht.

As of Dec 24, the fund had net cash of 38.4 billion baht.

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