Thailand to import fuel oil to offset Myanmar gas shortfall
BANGKOK, Feb 20 — Thailand plans to import about 25 million litres of fuel oil with 0.5 per cent sulphur content as part of efforts to offset a disruption to natural gas supplies from Myanmar, Energy Minister Pongsak Raktapongpaisal said today.
Natural gas supplies from Myanmar, which account for 30 per cent of Thailand’s consumption, will be disrupted during a planned maintenance shutdown of gas fields there in April.
That has prompted the Thai government to look for new sources of energy and prepare energy-saving measures to avoid power blackouts.
To compensate for the shortfall, the government plans to use 86 million litres of fuel oil, including the imported amount, and another 47 million litres of diesel, Pongsak told reporters.
In 2012, Thailand produced about 16.8 million litres a day of fuel oil and exported about 10.5 million litres a day, government data showed.
The planned maintenance shutdown at the Yadana gas fields in Myanmar will take place from April 5 to 14 rather than April 4 to 12 as scheduled earlier, Pongsak said after meeting officials to discuss the supply disruption.
The field, operated by France’s Total, needs to be repaired as rigs were destabilised, prompting Myanmar to stop supplying natural gas from there and the nearby Yetakun fields.
“The postponement of the shutdown should help reduce the risk of a power blackout occurring at some point,” the minister said.
April is one of the hottest months of the year in Thailand and electricity demand is expected to peak on April 4-5, but likely to fall during the long holiday weekend for Songkran, the Thai New Year, which runs from April 13-16.
The shutdown of the two fields will lead to a drop in gas supply from Myanmar of 1.1 billion cubic feet per day (cfd).
Natural gas makes up nearly 70 per cent of the fuel used to generate electricity in Thailand, which consumes about 4.8 billion cfd of gas in 2012. Demand is expected to rise to 5 billion cfd in 2013, the energy ministry says.
Gas supplies are already lower after an accident in late 2012 that damaged a gas pipeline of the Malaysia-Thailand Joint Development Area in the Gulf of Thailand, Pongsak said earlier.
The Energy Ministry will coordinate with a Thai unit of Chevron, operator of Platong and North Pailin gas fields in the Gulf of Thailand, to postpone a shutdown period until after the maintenance on the Myanmar field is complete, Pongsak said.
North Pailin field produces 210 million cfd of natural gas, while Platong field yields 200 million cfd.
State-controlled PTT Pcl will reserve gas oil and diesel to make sure power plants have enough supplies and cut its feed to its gas separation plants. — Reuters