The location of the government's land bridge project in the South -- touted as a more convenient way to transport goods from the Middle East to the Pacific region -- will be decided by June, Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob said on Monday.
The government is surveying locations along the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea in Chumphon and Ranong for engineering, environmental and economic potential, the transport minister said after chairing a meeting of the government's committee on the southern land bridge project on Monday.
The Chumphon-Ranong land bridge project will serve as a link for the transport of oil from the Strait of Hormuz, more than 4,000 kilometres away from the Andaman Sea, to a port in Ranong before it is transported by land to a port in Chumphon, where it will be shipped to other countries in the region, including China, Japan and South Korea, Mr Saksayam said.
The future transport route could become a new option for cargo shipments between the Indian and Pacific Oceans, and it will boost economic development in areas in southern Thailand, he said.
"This future transport and cargo exchange gateway will bring down transport costs by bypassing heavy traffic in the Malacca Strait," the transport minister said. "It will attract operators to use it."
In 2016, about 19 million barrels of crude oil were transported through the Malacca Strait daily, 16 million barrels of which were transported to Pacific countries, particularly China, Japan and South Korea, he said.
About 24.7 million cargo containers were shipped through the Malacca Strait per year, accounting for 4.3% of the world's overall cargo transport, Mr Saksayam said, noting that that is why Singapore's port serves as Asia's largest petroleum terminal that handles the second-highest number of cargo containers in the world.
"As such, southern Thailand has a good potential to become an intercontinental shipment and cargo exchange gateway, given its location being close to Singapore," he said.