PTT Global Chemical may only have to pay about Bt200 million - a relatively small compensation amount - for all damage caused by the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Thailand off Rayong, an economic expert has said.
This figure is based on an international rate that companies that cause an oil spill must pay – of US$1,200 (about Bt37,500) per litre – as compensation for all damage, according to Adis Israngkura na Ayudhaya, of the National Institute of Development Administration (NIDA).
Adis spoke at a public forum yesterday titled “The Lesson Learned, Analysis of the Oil Spill in the Gulf of Thailand: The Impact on Marine Interests” held by the Thailand Research Fund.
He said the sum the oil firm should pay for damage to natural resources and affected people was based on the international rate. And when he used this rate to calculate the compensation, along with the Kingdom’s gross national income per capita – which is one-tenth the international rate – he found PTTGC may pay only Bt200 million ($6.4 million) for damage caused by the leak of 50,000 litres of oil into the gulf.
The scale of damage at Ao Phrao on Koh Samet was not large, if compared with the massive spill of 60 million litres in Alaska’s Prince William Sound in 1989, or the Deepwater Horizon spill, which saw more than 750 million litres gush into the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. For the first event, oil giant Exxon had to pay $27 billion in compensation, while British Petroleum (BP) had to pay about $56 billion for the second.
“I am not sure we can ask for compensation for environmental damage, as the Thai legal system will ask for a bill,” Adis said.
He said there were four categories of compensation for damage from oil spills – cost of the clean-up, cash for affected businesses, for natural resources, and a punitive fine.
PTTGC vowed earlier to take responsibility and said it would pay compensation to affected people and state agencies for damage to natural resources.
However, people were asked not to file lawsuits as the firm would then have to wait for a court ruling, and this could delay the process for a long time.