Thailand: Authorities to drive ahead with oil plan

Energy authorities are continuing their push for the National Oil Plan, aiming to generate 170 billion baht for the Thai economy through a range of projects, including further development of cleaner energy, says the Department of Energy Business.

The plan has a budget of 34.9 billion baht and must pass a public hearing and approval by the cabinet, which is scheduled to be established in early August if the process goes smoothly.

After approval, authorities have until 2026 to carry out projects under the plan, which will focus on preparing enough oil reserves for energy security and a shift towards cleaner energy, said Nanthika Thangsupanich, director-general of the department.

The plan promotes the use of biofuel for aircraft, also known as sustainable aviation fuel, as well as increasing the amount of biofuel mixed with gasoline and diesel, and support for battery-run vehicles.

Transporting oil through a network of pipelines is another focus. Fuel consumption in Thailand rose by 3.1% during the first four months of 2023 thanks to the domestic economic recovery, said Ms Nanthika.

The consumption of refined oil products, including gasoline, jet fuel, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), compressed natural gas (CNG) and fuel oil, tallied 159 million litres per day (MLD), up from 154 MLD in the same period last year and exceeding 2019 levels.

Thailand used 158 MLD in 2019 before the pandemic subdued economic activities in 2020 and reduced fuel demand.

The Prayut Chan-o-cha government began to fully reopen the country in July last year when the pandemic eased, leading to more consumption of fuels.

From January to April, demand for gasoline and gasohol, a mix of gasoline and ethanol, rose by 5.8% to 31.8 MLD, up from 30.1 MLD year-on-year, according to the department.

Jet fuel posted the highest growth, with consumption soaring by 88.9% to 14.1 MLD, up from 7.5 MLD during the first four months of last year.

Demand for diesel dropped by 3.4% to 74.6 MLD, from 77.2 MLD in the same period last year.

Consumption of CNG rose by 6.4% to 3,500 tonnes per day, up from 3,290 tonnes per day, while demand for fuel oil increased by 2.6% to 6.4 MLD, rising from 6.2 MLD.

LPG consumption decreased by 3.3% to 31.8 MLD, down from 32.9 MLD.

The department said earlier the decline in LPG usage resulted from low polymer prices in the petrochemical sector.

Between January and April, imports of crude oil, refined oil and LPG increased by 7.9% to 1.098 million barrels per day (BPD), up from 1.018 million BPD in the same period last year.

The export of refined oil declined by 2.6% to 151,539 BPD, down from 155,522 BPD in the first four months of 2022.

Ms Nanthika said more fuel consumption reflected GDP growth as fuel demand and economic growth usually follow a similar path.