Thailand aims to liberalise gas pipeline business by Mid-2015

Thailand’s government plans to liberalise the country’s gas pipeline business, which is monopolised by energy giant PTT Pcl, by the middle of 2015, energy policy makers said. State-controlled PTT will spin off the business by transferring the pipeline and related assets to a new entity, according to a statement from the National Energy Policy Council (NEPC), chaired by junta leader General Prayuth Chan-ocha. The liberalisation will give other companies access to the country’s gas pipelines and links to the LNG receiving terminal run by PTT. Initially, PTT will own 100 percent of the new entity but the Finance Ministry could take a stake, Areepong Bhoocha-Oom, permanent secretary of the Energy Ministry, told reporters after meeting with the NEPC. PTT runs onshore and offshore gas pipelines running 3,715 km (2,300 miles) and is building a fourth at an estimated cost of 39 billion baht ($1.22 billion). The pipeline business has contributed about 25 percent of PTT’s core earnings in the past three years, analysts said. The policy makers also approved PTT’s long-delayed plan to sell its 36 percent stake in Star Petroleum Refining Co (SPRC) in an initial public offering in the second quarter of 2015. PTT has long wanted to dilute its holding in SPRC but a listing has been delayed for several years by negotiations with oil giant Chevron Corp, which owns 64 percent of SPRC.