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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        28  May 2011

Thailand moves toward biofuel

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Thailand spends around 9 percent of its national income on imported oil, that’s higher than any other country.

That percentage breaks down to imports of 800,000 barrels of crude oil a day. In February Thailand's crude oil import bill was US$2.26 billion, an increase of 13.5 percent over the same month in 2010. The main user is the transport sector, accounting for nearly 75 percent of the total.

PTT is Thailand's largest company, with interests across the energy field. Its net income for the first quarter of this year was 34.5 billion baht ($1.14 billion) but it is expanding research into using biofuels.

At PTT and in other research facilities scientists work on ways to convert local species of pond algae into biofuel is proceeding .

The efficient conversion of algae to fuel is still a long way off, but creating ethanol from biomass such as rice straw is closer.

PTT plans to start building its first pilot plant by the end of this year. It will produce about 455,000 liters of ethanol a year.

More half of Thailand's 67 million population are engaged in farming, and converting from food to fuel is politically loaded. Yet it is imperative for Thailand to find new sources of fuel.

Around 70 percent of Thailand's electricity is produced from natural gas, mostly imported from Myanmar. But when it comes to transport, the country still has to import oil.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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