By THE NATION
“The investment in this project is estimated at Bt330 billion,” he said. “However, the entire area of Laem Chabang Industrial Estate is occupied, so we have to look for new land.”
The minister further explained that Exxon Mobil proposed to fill the sea near their existing refinery in Laem Chabang, since the new petrochemical factory will need a supply of raw material from the refinery, so putting them close to each other would help reduce transports cost.
“The ministry and IEAT have agreed to reclaim 3,000 rai of land near Laem Chabang port,” he said. “Half or 1,500 rai will be allocated to Exxon Mobil’s new factory, while the rest will be reserved for future industrial estate development projects to be carried out by the IEAT.”
The Ministry of Industry has already tasked the Petroleum Institute of Thailand with studying the project’s feasibility and environmental impact. The study started in August and is expected to take six months.
Suriya said that if the study proves that the project is worth the investment while posing no serious threats to the environment, land reclamation should begin as soon as possible. “The ministry is weighing the pros and cons of this project carefully,” he said. “When finished, this project will help boost the economy, create more jobs, and promote the transfer of high technology from foreign partners. Meanwhile, the land filling technology nowadays is highly advanced and creates very little environmental impact, as we can see in many industrial countries such as Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong.”
Thai law dictates that all land reclamation projects must be carried out by government agencies, therefore IEAT will be responsible for the reclamation process, a while private joint-venture may be formed to increase efficiency.