NCPO to continue energy overhaul

Energy sector reform is likely within six months and price structure reform for petrol and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) should conclude by the end of this month, said ACM Prajin Juntong, deputy chief of National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).

Meanwhile, the price of diesel will be set at a price not exceeding 30 baht per litre until the energy reforms are completed.

Business leaders had already urged the NCPO to keep diesel prices below 30 baht a litre for another year.

Speaking after the second round of the energy reform meeting yesterday in Don Muang, ACM Prajin, who oversees economic affairs, said all parties agree the petrol and gas price structure should be reformed for the sake of fairness, and prices should be lowered and the rules for overseeing energy affairs must be improved to provide maximum benefits.

In addition, information about the country's energy fields and resources, including concessions for exploration and production, and the role of the State Oil Fund would be scrutinised before making a decision.

ACM Prajin said the public also needs clearer information about energy affairs. The coup-makers have warned against consumers expecting a drastic cut in prices, saying the changes need to be fair to all.

Rosana Tositrakil, former Bangkok senator and member of Thai Energy Reform Watch, said her group proposed at the meeting to postpone granting the 21st petroleum concession as it remains a controversial issue.

She said profit-sharing contracts or production sharing contracts should be adopted to replace granting the traditional exploration and production concession as it will benefit Thailand more.

Other Asean countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia use the sharing model whether it is for small or large petroleum deposits.

Some past concessions were granted to petroleum firms when the oil price was about US$18 (584 baht) per barrel, but now the price is more than $100 per barrel, Ms Rosana said, adding Thailand gains nothing from the sharp oil price increase.

"At present, the country cannot say how much petroleum reserves exist because the private sector won't reveal the reserve amount. If people cannot pay the domestic price then the petroleum should be left in the ground as its value will only increase," she said.

Manoon Siriwan, member of the Fellowship of Energy Reform for Sustainability, said the National Energy Policy Council, created by the coup-makers, needs to find a balance between giving people access to the resources and creating the most value out of the resources.

His group also raised the issue of concessions, reforming PTT Plc and streamlining petroleum laws and regulation.

Thai Energy Reform Watch also urged the end of giving the petrochemical industry priority for use of natural gas from the Gulf of Thailand.

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