July 01, 2014 00:00
By Watcharapong Thongrung
Stake sales in two local refineries top four priority tasks
The three new directors on PTT’s board insisted yesterday that they would work with transparency and for the good of the country.
Piyasvasti Amranand, a former energy minister; Pornchai Rujiprapha, a former permanent secretary of the Energy Ministry; and Kurujit Nakornthap, a former deputy permanent secretary of the Energy Ministry, who were appointed by the junta to replace those who had resigned, starting today, called a press conference to clarify their qualifications, after some opposition to them from some non-governmental organisations.
Piyasvasti said he and the other two directors had worked in the civil service, had knowledge and experience in the energy field, had never caused damage in their work or to the country and had never served the interests of politicians.
“Thus, in our PTT board mission, we will pursue our duty to serve the public interest and ensure fairness to consumers,” he said.
The new PTT board has four major tasks to see to completion, he said.
It will press ahead for PTT’s divestment of its stakes in two Thai refineries – Bangchak Petroleum and Star Petroleum Refining – to reduce PTT’s domination of the wholesale business. It will also propose an amendment to the Competition Act to include PTT’s petroleum business.
The board will lobby for other directors to agree to spin off PTT’s gas-transmission business, in which the energy giant enjoys a natural monopoly, and to allow other parties to use the pipelines under a third-party access framework.
The board will push for good governance in screening future candidates to the PTT board, since in the past politicians had found ways to send in their allies. This will need the nod of the Finance Ministry, which is the majority shareholder and usually nominates its representatives to sit on PTT’s board.
The board will scrutinise the overseas investments of PTT, as the public holds doubts about their transparency.
The board will carefully consider which projects will go ahead or will be scrapped, as well as to review PTT’s investment and strategic plans for the next five years.
Piyasvasti said he would sue anyone giving false information and sullying his reputation.
Former Democrat MP Atthawit Suwanpakdi urged Piyasvasti, who according to an unconfirmed report was to become the new chairman of PTT, to state clearly how he would manage the natural-gas pipelines, which are the key arteries that allow PTT to monopolise the country’s energy market.
PTT laid the gas pipelines by using the power to expropriate land from citizens when they were owned by the government. At that time Piyasvasti was the energy minister, and he interpreted a court ruling on PTT in 2007 to return the gas pipelines to the government as including only terrestrial pipelines, and not those running offshore.
“In my understanding, I thought that the return of PTT’s natural-gas pipelines to the government should be for the whole network, both onshore and offshore,” he said.
PTT’s stock price surged 1.92 per cent yesterday to close at Bt318, the highest in eight months since last October. PTT Exploration and Production rose 1.52 per cent to close at Bt167.5.