* LNG desk to start in February - sources
* Hired one trader and one operations staff - sources
* Thailand’s LNG demand expected to more than double
By Jessica Jaganathan
SINGAPORE, Jan 17 (Reuters) - Thailand’s state energy firm PTT is planning to start a liquefied natural gas (LNG) desk in Singapore to expand its trading activities of the super-chilled fuel, two sources familiar with the matter said on Thursday.
Thailand is in the midst of liberalising its power sector to boost competition in the domestic market. The southeast Asian country relies mainly on natural gas to generate power but domestic supply is falling behind consumption, requiring the country to import more LNG.
PTT is planning to set up the desk next month by hiring at least one LNG trader and an operations staff, the sources said, declining to be identified as they were not authorised to speak with the media.
The company has hired Daisuke Matsuoka to join its Singapore office, one of the sources said.
Matsuoka was most recently an LNG trader with Japanese trading firm Itochu Petroleum and with Royal Dutch Shell Plc and BG Group before that, according to his LinkedIn profile.
He will be handling imports of LNG into Thailand, trading of the fuel and “origination”, the source said, referring to a commercial role handling deal flow into trading desks.
PTT did not reply to an email requesting comment.
Thailand’s LNG imports are expected to more than double over the next five years from about 5 million tonnes per year currently, driven by rising import dependency amidst declining domestic gas production.
PTT is currently the country’s sole gas supplier and its only LNG importer, but state-run Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand is expected to start imports this year.
PTT’s Singapore office has more than 60 staff and trade in oil and other commodities, the second source said.
LNG is natural gas cooled to minus 162 degrees Celsius (minus 260 degrees Fahrenheit) which condenses the fuel into a liquid for easier storage and transportation by ship.
Reporting by Jessica Jaganathan, additional reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng in BANGKOK; Editing by Christian Schmollinger