gas from Myanmar
Power strategy to be devised for shutdown
Officials, Egat keen to ensure supply and avoid blackouts during April
Energy Minister Pongsak Ruktapongpisal will hold a meeting tomorrow to devise measures to mitigate a potential nationwide electricity shortage in April, as Myanmar has announced it will halt the supply of natural gas from the Yadana field during April 4-12.
"Preliminarily, decommissioned power plants that use diesel and bunker oil will be turned back on. After that, we'll work out the medium- and long-term plans to make us much more prepared for such a situation," he said yesterday.
The ministry will also launch a campaign to ask households across the country to turn off at least one light bulb to save energy during the supply shutdown. The date of the campaign will be determined tomorrow.
Pongsak said the ministry would hold discussions with the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat) about how to increase the Kingdom's electricity reserve, and would seek additional cheap power sources such as coal to back up the plan.
Philip Tan, president of Bank of Ayudhya, said a power shortage would be a serious issue for the entire private sector, not only the banking industry.
Energy security should be a priority national agenda issue and the government must speedily open negotiations with the Myanmar government to solve the situation, he said.
All financial transactions are dependent on electricity, and even though the bank has an emergency plan to prepare for unexpected situations, the measures are not suitable for the long term, he added.
Energy Ministry permanent secretary Norkhun Sitthiphong said the nation's power reserve had dropped to 600 megawatts from 1,200MW.
Strong economic growth since 2010 has sparked huge growth in power demand, amid growing protests against the construction new power plants, particularly those to be powered by coal and nuclear fuel, he said.
Electricity consumption in April is expected to peak at 27,000MW, versus 26,000MW last April, said Egat governor Sutas Patamasiriwat.
He gave an assurance that there would not, however, be a nationwide blackout in April, although partial blackouts were possible.
Sutas urged Thais to turn off electrical appliances between the hours of 1pm and 3pm from April 4-12.
The shutdown of the Yadana field will cut off the daily supply of 1,030 million cubic feet of gas and affect the operations of all six power plants in the west of Thailand.
Three of them are operated by Egat, and the others by Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding, Ratchaburi Power and Tri Energy. Their combined capacity is 6,000MW.
Egat's eight measures
In a statement released yesterday, Egat spokesman Pongdit Potejana said the state enterprise had prepared eight measures to ensure there was no major power blackout during the Myanmar shutdown period.
Top of the measures is the use of 130 million litres of bunker oil and 75 million litres of diesel to run the affected power plants.
Egat will also buy more power from small power producers and have four hydropower plants in Laos with a combined 2,126MW capacity operate at full capacity.
All power plants compatible with diesel will be readied for the operations ahead of the start of gas supply disruption, and all maintenance shutdowns will be rescheduled.
Egat will also hold drills with both the Metropolitan Electricity Authority and the Provincial Electricity Authority to prepare for a possible emergency. In the event of an emergency, each of the distributors will be required to shut down their systems in order to reduce power distribution by 350MW apiece.
In the release, Pongdit said a more pressing issue was the depletion of gas supply from the Gulf of Thailand over the next decade.
Thailand will need to import liquefied natural gas, which is twice as expensive as natural gas. For national energy security, the state enterprise supports the construction of more coal-fired power plants due to the lower cost of using coal than of using LNG.
Ironically, Pongsak yesterday unveiled seven policies to promote national energy security.
They include the development of an Energy Land Bridge to connect the Andaman Coast with the Gulf of Thailand, which would make the Kingdom a hub for regional oil transportation.
The other policies are the creation of a single fuel price nationwide; increasing the national oil reserve; the promotion of alternative energy in communities; the use of farm by-products in generating alternative energy and producing bioplastic; energy saving; and energy-price restructuring to reflect actual costs.