PTT considers fast-tracking gas processing project

BANGKOK--Petroleum Authority of Thailand (PTT) is considering whether to build a sixth natural gas processing plant and whether it should fast-track the project. The project would cost an estimated $263 million. A feasibility study will not be completed until yearend, but a company official said the plant could be commissioned within 4 years.

PTT Gov. Viset Choopiban said it is possible that a plant capable of processing up to 400 MMcfd of natural gas could start up in 3-4 years. The original plan for the project envisioned commissioning in 2006-07.

If the project goes forward, the plant could meet expected incremental ethane demand from Thai Olefins Co., a petrochemical firm owned 49% by PTT. It would support a $120 million Thai Olefins project that will nearly double ethylene capacity and switch the cracker's feedstock from naphtha to ethane. Thai Olefins, one of Thailand's three major olefins producers, wants to add about 300,000 tonnes/year of ethylene capacity to its existing 385,000 tonne/year complex in the eastern seaboard province of Rayong in 2003.

Initially, propane and butane from the fractionation section of the proposed gas plant are likely to be exported. Current PTT forecasts indicate the kingdom will not need additional indigenous LPG supplies until 2006-07.

The gas complex would process incremental natural natural gas supplies from PTT, comprising mainly gas from the Yadana and Yetagun fields in Myanmar's Gulf of Martaban. The plant also would be integrated with PTT's gas processing complex in Rayong, where PTT operates three units with capacities of 220 MMcfd, 250 MMcfd, and 350 MMcfd. PTT also operates a 250 MMcfd gas plant in Khanom, Nakhon Si Thammarat, in southern Thailand.

Thailand's fifth gas processing complex is operated by Thai Shell Exploration & Production, a unit of the Royal Dutch/Shell Group. Thai Shell runs a small facility that separates 300 tonnes/day of LPG from associated gas produced from Sirikit oil field in the northern province of Phitsanulok.

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