BIG budgets B4bn for capacity expansion – Gas maker taps allies for new-high spending

Construction News Myanmar
True to its name, Bangkok Industrial Gas Co is Thailand’s largest producer of industrial gas.

BIG budgets B4bn for capacity expansion – Gas maker taps allies for new-high spending

10 Sep 2018

Bangkok Industrial Gas Co (BIG), Thailand’s largest industrial gas producer, has set aside almost 4 billion baht for a capacity expansion in the domestic market and a new gas separation plant in Myanmar.

BIG created a financial venture with US-based Air Products and Chemicals and Bangkok Bank Plc for the investment, which sets a new high for capital spending.

The 4-billion-baht budget is allotted for 2018-20.

Piyabut Charuphen, managing director of BIG, said that in the past such expenditures would only be a few billion baht or less, but the new budget signifies changes in the sector.

BIG is witnessing growth in industrial gas demand from local and overseas operators. Demand has picked up in line with the country’s manufacturing production index and the growing average capacity utilisation rate.

The index has indicated growth of 4% on average during the past several years, and the utilisation rate has been above 80%, up from 60% a few years ago.

Mr Piyabut said a major factor is the transformation of the Thai economy through innovation and technology in a bid to shift from labour-intensive manufacturing.

Moreover, most capacity-expanding projects are located in the much-touted Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), a key programme of the government as it promotes the Thailand 4.0 initiative.

The corridor spans three eastern provinces: Chachoengsao, Chon Buri and Rayong.

BIG’s expansion plan runs from 2018 to 2020 and is expected to boost output to 2 million tonnes a year from 1.5 million.

Major investment projects go to the 400-million-baht nitrogen production plant in Amata City Chonburi at a capacity of 4,000 cubic metres an hour.

The nitrogen production plant will be developed through a joint venture of BIG and Amata Corporation Plc. BIG owns a 51% stake and Amata the remaining 49%.

The plant has started construction and is expected to launch operations in January.

The second project is the 500-million-baht hydrogen production plant of 12,000 cubic metres an hour. The main purchaser is PTT Global Chemical Plc.

The hydrogen production plant is in Map Ta Phut, starting operations in 2020.

Mr Piyabut said that some remaining hydrogen output from the plant is to be used as hydrogen fuel for electric vehicle families. BIG aims to talk with energy policymakers on the matter, he said.

The third gas plant is a new industrial gas production plant at a cost of 2 billion baht in Map Ta Phut at a capacity of 438,000 tonnes a year, starting operations by 2020.

The fourth plant is a new gas production plant in Myanmar’s Thilawa Special Economic Zone at Thanlyin with an investment of 800 million baht and capacity of 40,000 tonnes a year.

The Thilawa project is the joint venture between BIG to hold the 65% stake with local firm, owning the 35%. The project will operate in 2020.

“The Myanmar project will enable us to help local industrial manufacturers enhance their competitiveness, driven by a reliable and full range of gas supply to fulfil various industrial uses and greater cost effectiveness that helps shorten time for business operations,” Mr Piyabut said.

BIG is ready to support Thailand’s manufacturing sector, especially in fast-rising industries such as automotive and parts, metals, and medical services.

BIG also provides gas solutions and supply stations to directly connect with buyers, offering acetylene, argon, carbon dioxide, helium, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and specialty gas.

Mr Piyabut said that as a market leader with strong expertise in Thailand’s industrial gas market, BIG is ready to bring new innovations and technologies, as well as the know-how of its partner, Air Products and Chemicals, to help Thailand’s industrial sector increase production efficiency in the long run.

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