By PETCHANET PRATRUANGKRAI
Energy Minister Narongchai Akrasanee yesterday acknowledged that his department had missed its timeline to proceed with these two key missions during the first six months of its work, through to the end of last month.
“The new-round petroleum survey should come out within the next three months, after its delay in February. The new round will be in the form of production-sharing rather than concessions,” he said.
The ministry is waiting for regulatory amendments by the National Legislative Assembly before it can press ahead in this area, he added.
The minister commented that while nobody knew whether the new production-sharing survey would be successful, it needed to be undertaken for the sake of national energy security.
The ministry may also need to import more liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Myanmar if only a small amount of gas were be found in Thailand in the long run, he said, adding that he accepted that such a move could result in higher electricity prices.
The National Energy Policy Committee, chaired by Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha, is to meet on May 14 to continue to finalise the government’s energy plans, with the discussion focused on the sourcing of gas supplies for the country under a five-year plan.
Narongchai said the Energy Ministry would also continue with plans to restructure NGV prices to reflect the real cost of production within the next six months, with the price being increased to Bt15 per kilogram, from Bt13 currently.
While the higher NGV price would affect the cost of living, the policy needed to be pursued in order to reflect actual production costs, while the government would continue to promote more energy-saving in the long run, he said.
He pointed to last year’s year LPG price increase, since which time imports of LPG fell from a monthly average of 169,000 tonnes to 95,000 tonnes last month, resulting in a cost saving of Bt1 billion per month.
In a further effort to ensure the nation’s energy security, Narongchai said he would lead the ministry on a mission to Myanmar next month for the signing of a memorandum of understanding in regard to tightening cooperation in three key areas.
The three pillars of cooperation concern natural-gas supply; the trading of about 10,000 megawatts of electricity supply from Myanmar to Thailand; and other forms of general cooperation between the countries in the energy sector. The ministry will also sign a memorandum of understanding with Laos for the purchase of electricity, raising the level to 10,000MW from 7,000MW now.
Thailand will also continue to negotiate with Cambodia over the two countries’ Overlapping Claims Area, said the minister.
Meanwhile, the ministry is able to report a number of other successful outcomes during the six-month period from September 12 to March 31, he said, emphasising the reduction of fuel subsidies to reflect the real cost of energy production to achieve sustainable growth for the Kingdom.
As a result, the Oil Fund has turned around to a surplus to Bt40 billion, from a previous loss of Bt6 billion. However, Narongchai accepted that this was partially due to the benefits of lower global oil prices during the period. The Energy Ministry has also adjusted excise duty for diesel fuel, resulting in increased revenue of Bt80 billion. Moreover, it has approved 160 alternative-fuel projects capable of producing a combined 918.33MW of electrical power, while the feed-in tariff has attracted more investors in alternative energy, he said.
The ministry also continues to promote more energy-saving, will continue to work on the basis the Thailand Integrated Energy Blueprint, and has succeeded in allowing third-party access to energy business in order to reduce market dominance, he added.