March 20, 2014 00:00 By WATCHARAPONG THONGRUNG
THE ENERGY MINISTRY has prepared measures to avoid blackouts in 14 southern provinces when the supply of natural gas from A-18 field in the Joint Development Area (JDA) between Thailand and Malaysia is disrupted from June 13 to July 10 for an upgrade.
Energy Ministry permanent secretary Suthep Liumsirijarern said the ministry was concerned about the 28-day disruption, which could result in a gas shortfall of about 420 million cubic feet a day, and could suspend operations of the 700-megawatt Chana Power Plant in Songkhla province. This might cause power blackouts in 14 provinces if the ministry does not prepare for it.
The Chana plant cannot use other kinds of fuel such as bunker oil instead of gas to generate electricity.
Triton Oil from Thailand and Petronas Carigali of Malaysia each own 50 per cent of the A-18 field, for which improvements will be made to the gas-transmission system during the shutdown.
Peak power demand in the 14 southern provinces is about 2,500MW, Suthep said, which exceeds the 2,300MW capacity of the power plants in the South. In the past, this shortfall was filled by 700MW of electricity send via a 500-kilovolt transmission line. Since the Chana Power Plant cannot operate on bunker oil or diesel, there would be a loss of 700MW of capacity from the system, resulting in a shortfall of about 200MW, especially between 6.30pm and 10.30pm each day.
In the long run, the South cannot rely on additional power supply from the Central region to fill electricity shortfalls from time to time. The Southern region needs its own adequate electricity-generation capacity to avoid blackout in the event of gas-supply disruptions like this one, Suthep said.
The Energy Ministry will implement three measures to avoid blackout in the 14 provinces during the disruption period.
First, consumers will be asked to avoid wasteful use of electricity, and local industries will be asked to stop factory operations during the critical June-July period to save 300MW of power.
Second, if the first measure is not effective, the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat) will transmit 200MW of electricity from the Central region.
The third measure will only be used as an emergency procedure, and would require selective shutdowns of electricity supply in some areas.
In the future, the ministry will require pipeline-maintenance schedules covering five years, instead of two years currently.