Thailand: Fuel consumption surges during Q1

Fuel consumption in the first quarter increased to a level greater than usage in 2019, following a drop for two consecutive years when Thailand endured the impact of the pandemic, according to the Department of Energy Business (DOEB).

From January to March, fuel demand rose by 5.65% to 161 million litres per day (MLD) on average, up from 151 MLD in the first quarter of last year.

In the corresponding quarter of 2021, fuel consumption was 133 MLD. Fuel consumption was 158 MLD in the first quarter of 2019.

DOEB director-general Nanthika Thangsupanich attributed the increase to the lifting of lockdown measures that led to a business recovery, as well as the full reopening of the country, which boosted tourism.

Consumption of diesel rose by 0.2% year-on-year to 76.4 MLD, up slightly from 76.2 MLD.

Demand for gasoline and gasohol, a mix of gasoline and ethanol, increased by 6.6% to 31.7 MLD, up from 29.8 MLD last year.

Jet fuel recorded the highest growth, with consumption skyrocketing by 95% year-on-year to 14 MLD, up from 7.1 MLD.

The easing of Covid-19 infections resulted in more active air travel.

According to the DOEB, consumption of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) decreased slightly by 2.6% year-on-year to 31.5 MLD, down from 32.3 MLD, mainly attributed to less usage of LPG because of low polymer prices in the petrochemical sector.

Demand for compressed natural gas rose by 7% year-on-year to 3,560 tonnes per day, up from 3,330 tonnes per day.

Consumption of fuel oil gained by 6.8% year-on-year to 6.82 MLD, up from 6.39 MLD.

Demand for kerosene continued to decrease by 19.3% year-on-year to 0.01 MLD, down from 0.02 MLD, as people shifted to cheaper fuels and the industrial sector reduced its usage as a raw material.

The import of crude oil, LPG and refined oil rose by 5.7% year-on-year to 1.10 million barrels per day (BPD), up from 1.04 million BPD.

Exports of refined oil declined by 6% to 147,371 BPD, down from 156,798 BPD in the same period last year.

Ms Nanthika said the growth in oil consumption should align with GDP growth, driven by the domestic economic recovery.

She said officials are drafting a National Oil Plan in line with state efforts to shift from fossil fuels to cleaner fuels, notably greater use of biofuel and electric vehicles.

One factor that could boost biofuel demand is to make gasohol E20 the primary fuel at petrol stations in place of gasohol E10, also known as gasohol 91, which will be gradually phased out.

Gasohol E20 is a mix of gasoline and 20% ethanol, while gasohol E10 is blended with 10% ethanol.

Gasohol E10 is known by motorists as gasohol 91 or 95, which refers to their octane ratings.