UPDATE 1-Thai PTT resumes partial operations at gas plant No. 5
(Adds that is not know when operation will reach full capacity; details and background on gas volumes,)
BANGKOK Oct 9 (Reuters) - Thailand's top energy firm, PTT Pcl, said on Wednesday it has resumed partial operations at its gas separation plant No. 5 earlier than expected, after estimating the unit would be down between three and five months from August.
"The gas plant is 50 percent back to work now," PTT President and CEO Pailin Chuchottaworn told reporters.
The plant was shut down in mid-August after a thunderstorm and lightning strike damaged the plant's waste heat recovery unit.
The plant, one of six PTT gas separation plants, has a capacity of 530 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd) - about a fifth of the firm's combined capacity of 2,660 mmcfd.
Pailin declined to say when the plant might be back at full capacity.
PTT is the largest gas separation operator in Thailand. Its six plants take natural gas from the Gulf of Thailand and separates it into different streams for customers such as power generators and petrochemical manufacturers.
The shutdown of the No. 5 plant came a few months after maintenance at gas fields in Myanmar highlighted worries about Thailand's gas output and power generation capacities.
Thailand uses natural gas for about 70 percent of its power generation. It produces 3,700 mmcfd of natural gas domestically and imports 1,100 mmcfd from Myanmar, just about enough to feed domestic needs of 4,850 mmcfd.
Thailand's gas demand is expected to rise to 7,000 mmcfd in the next 20 years, according to the energy ministry's Minerals Fuels Department.
Shares in PTT were unchanged at 320 baht at the close on Wednesday, while the main Stock Exchange of Thailand index was 0.04 percent higher. (Reporting by Pisit Pisit Changplayngam; Writing by Orathai Sriring; Editing by Tom Hogue)