Natural gas supply to be disrupted

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Natural gas supply to be disrupted

There is serious potential for major blackouts to take place across Thailand at different periods over the next two years, according to reports from the relevant energy authorities in the country.

The idea that large parts of the country could be subjected to rolling blackouts is viewed as a worst case scenario at this juncture. Much will depend on how well businesses that consume large amounts of electricity respond to the potential crisis.

The natural gas supply between Thailand and Myanmar is set to be significantly reduced due to maintenance issues between April and August this year, and again between April and August 2015.

As well, supply of natural gas between Thailand and Malaysia will be disrupted between June and July this year and again from May to August next year.

Fortunately, these disruptions have been well forecast and will not come as any kind of a surprise to the relevant authorities, thereby giving them plenty of time to make alternative arrangements designed to minimize any impact to the general public and business.

The Energy Department permanent secretary noted that about 14 percent of Thailand’s natural gas supply, equating to 630 standard million cubic feet per day as stopped between 10 and 27 April. This will rise to 25 percent of daily consumption between 10 and 18 April next year, so how the energy sector responds this year will give an indication of what is required twelve months down the track.

Between 13 June and 10 July this year, supply from Malaysia into Thailand will be disrupted, although the amount will be equal to about 9.3 percent of daily consumption. This supply will again be interrupted between May and August 2015.

The Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat), the Energy Regulation Commission (ERC), the Department of Mineral Fuels, and a number of key businesses, including the conglomerate PTT, have all set up working parties who will coordinate and cooperate in an effort to reduce any impact on internal power supplies.

Egat has stated it has standby diesel and bunker oil power generators to cover any blackouts and PTT noted it will not shutdown its petroleum production blocks during the period of the gas disruption.

The ERC has requested those companies using large amounts of electricity to cut consumption during peak hours and adjust working hours so that potential impacts remain as muted as possible.

Although not likely to make that much of a difference yet, energy authorities have relaxed the permissions required for solar rooftop energy projects, which could at least ease burdens in the longer term.

Nonetheless, energy authorities realize the measures they have in place may not completely remove the need to institute rolling power blackouts in some areas.