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Thailand turns off tap on gas imports as economy falters

Published on Jul 13, 2014 3:20 PM

BANGKOK/SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Thailand is cutting natural gas imports after consumption growth in Asia's fourth-largest user of the fuel has sagged to two-decade lows, threatening to idle costly fuel import facilities and force suppliers to turn to rival buyers such as China.

Growth in gas use has stalled as the economy has taken a hit from political turmoil, putting in doubt long-term plans to boost imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and buy more piped gas from neighbouring Myanmar as domestic output wanes.

PTT, Thailand's biggest energy conglomerate and sole gas supplier, has cut estimates for LNG imports and gas sales for this year, an executive of the firm said. That comes as slowing consumption for power and petrochemicals is reducing gas demand in Southeast Asia's second-biggest economy.

State-controlled PTT has also cut its gas imports from Myanmar, which is now looking to China to take up some of the slack, a Myanmar government official said.

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