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December 17, 2008

Thai energy giant to review $1.4bn gas pipeline plan

Thai energy firm PTT Plc said on Tuesday it was reviewing a plan to invest in three natural gas pipeline worth a combined 50 billion baht ($1.4 billion) due to the economic crisis and falling energy prices, reported Reuters.

"We are in the middle of reviewing our investments, to see whether it fits into the current economic situation as a worthwhile investment," PTT Executive Vice-President Nattachart Jaruchinda told reporters.

With deepening recession fears and oil prices tumbling, PTT said this has affected demand for natural gas vehicles (NGVs), heavily promoted by the Thai government as oil prices CLc1 spiralled to record highs earlier this year.

"Now that oil prices are dropping, people see no rush to use NGVs," he said.

Oil steadied below $45 on Tuesday, coming off a four-year low of $40.50 on Dec. 5 -- more than $100 below July's all-time high -- as global economic turmoil depressed demand in large consumer nations such as the United States and Japan.

The pipelines PTT is reviewing, over 500 km (311 miles) long in total, run from Ratchaburi-Prachuap Khiri Khan in Thailand's south, Saraburi-Nakhon Ratchasima in the northeast and Ayudhya-Nakhon Sawan in the centre of the country.

The pipelines, for gas used in power plants as well as by NGVs, were scheduled to be completed in 2011.

Natural gas demand for this year was expected to be about 2,800 tonnes per day, and Nattachart said next year that could climb to 3,000 tonnes per day, helped by rising demand in the transport sector.

Despite continued losses in its NGV business, PTT hopes to have 300 NGV gas stations by the end of this year, up from 272 now. It aims for 400 in 2009.

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