Domestic gas for power generation could fall short
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Domestic gas for power generation could fall short

LNG imports may rise as heatwave boosts electricity consumption

Despite the heat in Bangkok, there were still many people at Chatuchak weekend market last month. (Photo: Apichart Jinakul)
Despite the heat in Bangkok, there were still many people at Chatuchak weekend market last month. (Photo: Apichart Jinakul)

Thailand’s additional domestic gas supply for power generation may be insufficient during this year’s hot season, when demand for electricity typically peaks, according to the Energy Policy and Planning Office (Eppo).

Gas production from the Erawan gas block in the Gulf of Thailand, which has been declining since 2018, is set to double in April, but the higher amount may be relatively small when compared with soaring electricity demand, caused by the unusually extreme hot season, said Veerapat Kiatfuengfoo, director-general of the Eppo.

This weather is believed to have resulted from the impact of El Niño, a cyclical phenomenon that causes the oceans to heat up, increasing temperatures and bringing drought to many countries.

Weather forecasting authorities expect temperatures in Thailand to hit a new record, with less rain than last year.

“It’s possible Thailand will need to import more liquefied natural gas (LNG) to serve power generation as power demand is rising,” said Mr Veerapat.

Gas accounts for 60% of fuels used for electricity generation in the country.

Up to 57% of gas comes from domestic sources, with 31% from imported LNG and 12% from gas imported from Myanmar.

LNG prices for imported gas are higher than those of domestic gas providers and gas that is imported from neighbouring countries. Greater use of LNG means more expensive power bills.

Last year, LNG imports rose by 16% to 6 million tonnes, up from 5 million tonnes in 2022.

Peak electricity demand this year will reduce the nation’s power generation capacity in reserve to less than 25% of total capacity, down from more than 30%, said Mr Veerapat.

Electricity consumption is expected to rise by 3.1% this year to 210,170 gigawatts-hour, up from 203,923 GWh, he said.

Eppo on Monday said Thailand’s total energy consumption is expected to increase by 3.1% to 2,063 kilo barrels of oil equivalent per day (KBOED), up from 2,007 KBOED last year and 1,990 KBOED in 2022.

Of the total, natural gas is expected to grow by 2.5% to 859 KBOD. Demand for oil will rise by 3.1% to 837 KBOED while coal demand should increase by 2.4% to 296 KBOED.

The increase is based on estimated GDP growth of 2.2-3.2%, Dubai crude oil reference prices of US$80-90 per barrel, and a foreign exchange rate of 34.3-35.3 baht per US dollar, said Mr Veerapat.

Meanwhile, Eppo plans to organise a public hearing on the new national power development plan, which will increase the renewable power proportion to 50%, up from 10-12% at present, after April this year.

People will be asked whether they agree with the use of hydrogen and nuclear fuel from small modular reactors as alternative energy.

The plan will be implemented between 2024 and 2037.

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