Thailand seen buying more natural gas from Myanmar

Tue Dec 20, 2011 6:16am EST

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BANGKOK Dec 20 (Reuters) - Thailand is expected to buy at least 2 billion cubic feet per day (cf/d) of natural gas from resource-rich Myanmar over the next 20 years to meet rising energy demand, an energy ministry official said on Tuesday.

Songpob Polchan, Director-General of the Department of Mineral Fuels, said Thailand was now using about 1.1 billion cf/d of natural gas, accounting for 25 percent of the country's 4 billion cf/d energy demand, mostly for power generation.

"Electricity demand in Thailand is rising amid limited gas volumes available now in the Gulf of Thailand and we expect the trend will lessen in the future," Songpob told reporters.

Thailand has been talking with neighbouring countries including Myanmar and Cambodia to seek more cooperation in petroleum exploration and production.

It is seeking more concessions for petroleum exploration for its top energy firm PTT Pcl and Thai Energy Minister Pichai Naripthanphan, who accompanied Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra during a Dec. 18-20 visit to former British colony, is meeting with Burmese Energy Minister to discuss potential oil deals.

State-controlled PTT group has expressed interest in investing in three petroleum blocks, one onshore and two offshore MD7 and MD8, in Myanmar.

PTT's subsidiary, PTT Exploration and Production Pcl , has said it wants to join bids for 2-3 blocks of the total 18 to be opened by Myanmar government.

Songpob said cost for a deep sea petroleum exploration was usually very high with an estimate of up to 2-3 billion baht ($64-96 million) per well while well exploration in the Gulf of Thailand could cost up to $3-5 million each.

PTTEP, a flagship in the upstream petroleum exploration business of PTT, has about 40 oil and gas exploration and development projects now. It has four projects in Myanmar and is a minority partner in the Yetagun and Yadana gas developments.

Myanmar natural gas accounts for about 30 percent of Thailand's consumption, mostly in power generation.

Hopes of economic reforms and foreign investment opportunities are running high three weeks after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's landmark visit.

($1 = 31.30 Baht) (Reporting by Ploy Ten Kate; editing by James Jukwey)

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