Gas-supply stoppages could mean higher power price

Construction News Laos

Electricity costs could rise this year because of temporary stoppages in natural-gas supply from the Gulf of Thailand and Burma, which will force the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand to resort to the more expensive alternative of bunker oil.

Egat estimates it will need 216 million litres of bunker oil this year to replace natural gas from the Arthit and JDA-B17 fields in the Gulf as well as gas from Burma.

The supply feed of 700 million cubic feet per day from the Gulf sources will stop during April 11-17, while 1.2 billion cubic feet per day from Burma will halt from December 5-29.

“The cost of bunker oil is naturally one time higher than that of natural gas. The higher cost will be included in fuel tariffs,” Egat governor Sutas Patamasiriwat said yesterday.

“The stoppage will not have much of an impact, as it is prearranged. The stoppages will take place during long holiday periods, Songkran and New Year, when power consumption is usually 30-35 per cent lower than normal,” he added.

Egat plans to use the stoppages to shut down two gas-fired power plants for maintenance: the Chana power plant in Songkhla during March and June, and the Nam Phong power plant in Khon Kaen in September.

Egat has forecast that national power demand will grow 4.15 per cent this year, based on the National Economic and Social Development Board’s economic-growth prediction of 3.5-4.2 per cent. Peak-period power is estimated to increase 5.49 per cent to 25,327 megawatts.

Sutas said Thailand’s power reserves this year were not a worry, as they stood at 22.9 per cent of installed capacity.

He is, however, rather concerned about water volume. Despite the flooding across much of the Kingdom late last year, water in dams is 5 per cent lower than the previous year at 2.738 billion cubic metres.

Dams in the western part of the country contain the lowest level, down 4.3 billion cubic metres from the previous year. Only 5.3 billion cubic metres from the western dams can be discharged for various purposes.

Egat is also concerned about the water level in the Huay Ho Dam in Laos, which has been falling dramatically because of unusually low rainwater over the catchment area. As hydropower from Huay Ho is supplied mainly to the Northeast of Thailand, Egat expects some brownouts and blackouts in the region during power peaks.

“We will consider allocating power from other parts of the country to minimise the impacts,” the governor said.

Sutas also expressed Egat’s readiness to support the government’s policy to waive electricity fees for all households consuming less than 90 units per month.

However, he is concerned that the benefit would also cover those who own a second home, and that the policy could affect energy efficiency.


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