Egat plans to venture into SE Asia

State-owned power producer Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat) plans to venture overseas and could invest 17 billion baht in expanding into Laos, Vietnam, Indonesia and other regional markets, a group executive said.

EGAT will be joining private Thai power producers such as Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Plc and Electricity Generating Plc in looking overseas for growth as a slowing economy at home saps demand and opposition from locals and environmental activists make domestic expansion harder.

The group is in discussions to build power plants in neighbouring countries and send some of the electricity back to Thailand, Thana Puttarangsri, acting president of Egat International, told Reuters. Egat International is the overseas investment arm of Egat.

Egat International planned to invest 2.6 billion baht to acquire a 30% stake in the 289-megawatt Nam Ngiep hydro power plant in Laos, which is expected to start operations in 2019, Mr Thana said.

In late June, the company signed a contract with the Vietnamese government to develop two coal-fired power plants with combined capacity of 1,200 MW in Quang Tri province. It will spend 8.5 billion baht for a 40% stake in the two power plants, he said.

Egat International is also planning to spend 1.5 billion baht on buying a 25% stake in a coal mine in Indonesia, Mr Thana said.

Additionally, the company is planning to invest at least 55 billion baht in two power projects which will have a combined capacity of 8,360 MW. A decision on that is pending clearer regulation by the Myanmar government, he said.

Months of political deadlock in Thailand has hurt tourism, domestic demand and confidence. Its economy contracted 2.1% in January-March from the previous three months, and the central bank last month cut its 2014 growth forecast to 1.5%. The military seized power in May.

The longer term outlook for power demand in Southeast Asia's second-largest economy is bright. Domestic power demand is expected to reach 52,256 MW by 2030 from 26,355 in 2013, while Thailand needs to double its electricity generating capacity to 70,000 MW over the next 16 years.

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