Friday, February 22, 2008

Thailand expects natural gas fields to provide big boost this year

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

BANGKOK: Three natural gas fields in the Gulf of Thailand will start producing about one billion cubic feet of natural gas per day in 2008 to feed power-hungry Thailand, the country's top energy firm, PTT, said on Tuesday.

All of the new supplies of natural gas from the Arthit, Arthit North and Block A18 fields in Malaysia and Thailand's joint development area, totaling 28 million cubic meters a day, will be used to produce electricity to catch up with rising demand in recent years, said Chitrapongse Kwangsukstith, a PTT official.

"After years of developing, we'll get a lot of new gas this year," said Chitrapongse, the chief operating officer for PTT's upstream and natural gas operations.

"We'll have gas from Arthit field, which should start producing gas late this month, followed by Block A18 in April and the Arthit North in August," Chitrapongse said.

Domestic demand for natural gas rose by about 10 percent in 2007, with demand projected to grow at the same pace to 2012 as power plants and chemical firms switch from expensive imported oil to natural gas-driven plants and more natural gas is used in automobiles.

Natural gas accounts for two-thirds of the fuel used to generate electricity in Thailand.

Initial output from the Arthit field, operated by PTT Exploration and Production, would total about 330 million cubic feet per day, while the Arthit North would produce just under half of that and Block A18 would deliver 400 million cubic feet per day.

"Natural gas volumes will rise to 4,300 to 4,400 million cubic feet a day by the end of this year," Chitrapongse said, up from 3,400 to 3,500 now.

PTT, which has signed a 10-year contract to import 1 million tons a year of liquefied natural gas from Qatargas starting in 2011, also aims to sign deals soon with two more LNG suppliers, but he did not identify them.

"Altogether, there should be about two million tons of new gas coming before end of the first half of this year," he said.

In 2006, PTT signed a preliminary agreement with Pars LNG of Iran to buy three million tons of LNG a year for 20 years, but the deal has been delayed. PTT was also negotiating with other LNG suppliers from South Africa, the Middle East, Indonesia and Australia, Chitrapongse said. PTT expected to see strong growth in sales of natural gas this year, supported by increased flow, he said.

The company has yet to report 2007 results but sales in 2006 totaled 1.2 trillion baht, or $38 billion, of which $7.5 billion came from its natural gas business.

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