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January 15, 2009

Thai refiner’s sales seen falling in 2009
Top refiner Thai Oil said a fall in average selling prices, hit by lower crude oil prices, would drag its 2009 sales lower.

The company, which expects to report 2008 results in mid-March, plans to sell 5 billion baht ($143 million) of bonds in the first quarter of this year to refinance debt, Reuters quoted managing director Viroj Mavichak as saying Thursday.

"Obviously our sales are going to drop this year, given the fact that oil prices have come down quite significantly," Viroj told reporters.

"We're planning a bond sale in the first quarter," he said, adding that the firm had not set details yet.

Oil prices CLc1, which have crashed from record highs over $147 a barrel in July last year as the economic crisis clipped global oil demand, have fallen almost 13 percent so far this year.

At 0241 GMT US light crude traded down 39 cents on the day at $36.89 a barrel.

Viroj gave no specific revenue forecast but 14 analysts polled by Reuters Estimates expected Thai Oil to report a 23 percent drop in 2009 revenue to 303.5 billion baht.

For 2008, they expected a 52 percent rise in revenue to 396 billion baht.

The refiner would invest up to $100 million in two or three projects this year, Viroj said, without giving further details.

The refinery, 49 percent owned by energy giant PTT, expected gross refining margins at $5-6 a barrel this year, close to a year earlier, Viroj said.

Thai Oil operates a 275,000 bpd refinery and runs paraxylene petrochemical and lubricant businesses via subsidiaries.

Shares in Thai Oil, valued at $1.3 billion, closed down 1.8 percent at 22.40 baht on Wednesday, when the main Thai stock index .SETI rose 1.3 percent.

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