Oil, gas shipments shifted to daytime

Measures such as avoiding transportation of oil and gas at night are planned for the expected shutdown of Bangkok by anti-government protesters, in order to prevent an energy supply and services disruption, says the Energy Ministry.

The ministry called a meeting of policymakers on Monday to discuss logistics management of oil, gas, and electricity, to ensure an adequate supply is available during a shutdown.

Suthep Liumsirijareon, the permanent secretary for energy, said the ministry is in talks with the Transport Ministry to change the planned oil and gas transportation to the daytime to minimise the risk of the fleet being seized and used as a weapon.

There are 73 petrol service stations, 21 liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) pumps and seven compressed natural gas (CNG) pumps located within two kilometres of the 20 major intersections the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) plan to seize as a rally site.

"We are talking with oil and gas retailers to stay on high alert about supply disruptions if the demonstration is prolonged," said Mr Suthep. The Energy Ministry told oil and gas retailers to fill up with as much oil and gas as possible at each station before an occupation begins.

Energy policymakers estimated a Bangkok shutdown could last for a maximum of two months.

"Although the ministry does not foresee any violence happening, policymakers will not be careless about safety during a shutdown," he said. "We have to prevent the possibility that ill-intentioned people seize oil and gas trucks to use them as weapons."

The ministry plans to set up emergency management centre soon.

"We learned how to manage oil and gas distribution, power lines, substations and power plants during an emergency back in the floods of 2011," said Mr Suthep.

However, a source at the Metropolitan Electricity Authority (MEA) said the utility may not be able to prevent power being cut off at Government House, the Finance Ministry and the house of caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra as threatened by protesters.

The MEA is authorised to monitor transmission lines from the grid to power poles, but if protesters cut transmission lines linking the poles to the buildings, the MEA is powerless. However, staff are prepared to respond as quickly as possible if such an instance should occur, said the source, who asked not to be named.

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