Broader view of PTT's Myanmar expansion

business May 08, 2012 00:00

By NALIN VIBOONCHART
THE NATION

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PTT Group's pursuit of further business opportunities in Myanmar is not only aimed at serving increasing demand for energy in the newly opened-up country, but also at supporting economic growth in Mekong sub-region countries in light of the Asean Economic



PTT Group expects to introduce an investment package for the energy industry to the Myanmar government by the end of this year, said Anon Sirisaengtaksin, head of the group’s Myanmar task force.

Its close relationship with the Myanmar government, particularly the Energy Ministry, is likely to be an advantage for PTT Group when it comes to further business collaboration in the country, he said.

The group set up a Myanmar task force to serve as an ad hoc working group in regard to investment in the neighbouring country. Anon, who has more than 15 years’ experience in doing business with Myanmar, is the first head of the task force.

He was previously president and chief executive officer of PTT Explora-tion and Production (PTTEP), which has secured oil and gas exploration concessions in many Myanmar fields. After the recent top executive reshuffle in PTT Group, Anon now is chief executive officer of PTT Global Chemical.

He said that like many other companies, PTT Group was viewing Myanmar as a strategic investment location now that the country’s leaders had decided to take the road to reform. The group would like to increase its presence in the country, which will benefit not only the company and Thailand, but also Mekong subregion nations as a whole.

“We asked ourselves what was the main objective for investing in Myanmar: to serve our need to invest in that country, like others, or to serve the growing demand of the country? If we decided to invest for ourselves, we could do so throughout the entire chain of the Myanmar energy industry, as we have the experience. But if we decided to invest for the people in that country, we would have to think beyond that,” he said.

PTT Group came to the conclusion that its intention to invest in Myanmar would serve the neighbouring country’s growing economy, he said. It then had to decide which type of energy demand would take priority for the country.

It concluded that electricity should be the top priority, followed by refineries and petrochemicals. Major infrastructure development in terms of roads and ports is also required to support the energy industry. Anon said PTT Group had a wealth of experience that could help the Myanmar authorities to plan and develop the industry.

The country already has refineries with a combined capacity of around 100,00 barrels per day, but the facilities are quite old. Moreover, the refined products may also not be suitable to the country’s current needs.

There is, however, condensate from the refinery process, which can be sold to petrochemical plants at a premium price, he added.

Oil and gas production sites in Myanmar can also be upgraded in order to achieve higher petroleum output, besides which the government has a target to improve the standard of oil products available at fuel stations, which entails an increased supply of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG)

Anon said PTT could extend the gas pipeline from Thailand to Myanmar to serve LPG demand in the country. This would make gas business the fastest operation that PTT Group could implement in Myanmar.

Investment throughout the energy business chain would also extend the petroleum exploration and production business of PTTEP, which is currently testing the quality of petroleum resources at Myanmar’s M3 site. If the quality is good enough to crack for LPG and petrochemicals production, PTT Group is ready to invest in both gas and petrochemicals, he said.

The task-force leader said many countries were now looking at entering Myanmar, resulting in a fiercely competitive environment. PTT believes, however, that the overall plan it is proposing to the government will benefit the country the most and that it will be able to build on the relationship and trust it has with the Myanmar authorities.

“This is our idea towards energy industry development in Myanmar. We may not need to invest in all parts of the chain. Some operations like refineries can be upgraded without investment in new facilities. If PTT Group can collaborate with Myanmar, we will also be able to help develop human resources,” he said.

Anon submitted the group’s ideas to the Myanmar Energy Ministry a few weeks ago and hopes to introduce the package officially to develop the energy industry with the government within six months. The investment picture in the country should be clear within such a time frame, he said.

The neighbouring countries of Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam would also enjoy benefits from energy-industry development in Myanmar, he said, under the Asean Economic Community.