BANGKOK, May 30 (Reuters) - Thailand’s PTT Pcl will invest an additional 1 billion baht ($28 million) to raise capacity at its liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal by 1.5 million tonnes a year to serve rising demand, the country’s energy minister said on Monday.
The increase will lift capacity at PTT’s LNG import terminal at Map Ta Phut at eastern Rayong province to 11.5 million tonnes in 2019, the minister Anantaporn Kanjanarat told reporters.
State-controlled PTT, Thailand’s largest energy company, is already in the process of doubling the terminal’s annual capacity to 10 million tonnes, due to be completed by 2017.
PTT also got approval from the national energy policy committee to build a second 5 million-tonne-per-year LNG terminal at a new location in Rayong province with budget of 36.8 billion baht ($1.03 billion), Anantaporn said.
The delay in construction of coal-fired power plants has prompted the country’s energy policy makers to raise demand estimates for natural gas to 5,653 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd) from earlier forecasts 4,344 mmcfd for 2015-2036, according to a statement issued by the energy ministry.
PTT will in addition study the possibility to raise the annual capacity at the second terminal to 7.5 million tonnes, with construction to be completed in 2022, Anantaporn said.
Thailand will have to import more LNG to offset lower supply from Myanmar - its traditional supplier for pipelined natural gas - as its neighbour is expected to use more of the fuel for its own development, the ministry’s statement also said.
Thailand uses natural gas for nearly 70 percent of its power generation and has become increasingly reliant on imports as its own domestic gas fields are slowly being depleted.
The state-run Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) will also study a proposal to build a floating LNG storage and regasification unit at the upper end of the Gulf of Thailand, with an expected annual capacity of 5 million tonnes, the energy ministry’s statement said.
EGAT is to complete the study and make a recommendation to the energy ministry within 3-1/2 months, it said.
However, LNG demand is forecast to be around 2.7 million-3.1 million tonnes a year in 2016, lower than earlier forecasts of an average 4.5 million tonnes for 2015-2036, due to a weak economy and the volatility of global oil prices.
PTT was still in discussions with Royal Dutch Shell and BP to delay its long-term LNG purchases to 2017 from this year, the statement said.
$1 = 35.7400 baht Reporting by Khettiya Jittapong; Editing by Tom Hogue