The Petroleum Authority of Thailand is in the midst of a multibillion-dollar long-term development project in the petrochemical sector that is slated to extend into 2020, said a senior management official for the Thai petroleum authority, known as PTT.
The first stage of the project - national petrochemical complex phase III, or NPC III - involves an investment of 200 billion baht ($6.4 billion) to complete a 2.2 billion-pound-capacity ethylene cracker by 2010, said Pailin Chuchottaworn, managing director of PTT Polymer Marketing Co. Ltd., a subsidiary of PTT.
The second stage of NPC III is still in various phases of planning and approval, he said, but it involves building an ethylene cracker with capacity for 1.76 billion pounds per year. Stage two will cost about 269 billion baht ($8.6 billion) and is scheduled for completion by 2017, Chuchottaworn said in an interview at Flexpo, held Oct. 17-19 in Bangkok.
NPC III is an ongoing expansion of NPC I and NPC II, petrochemical complexes built in the 1980s and 1990s in Thailand's Map Ta Phut industrial region, southeast of Bangkok.
Chuchottaworn also disclosed that the Thai government supports a proposed NPC IV complex, which may be located on the country's southern seaboard.
NPC IV is a long-term development and its implementation is not due for another 10 years, he said.
NPC III's first stage of development includes resin production capabilities, he said, with capacity of 660 million pounds of low density polyethylene, 880 million pounds of linear low density PE, and 1.3 billion pounds of polypropylene per year, plus phenol and paraxylene manufacturing.
The first stage of NPC III, as with NPC I and II, will use feedstocks based on natural gas. Most of the natural gas is sourced from Thai gas-producing fields in the Gulf of Thailand.
Meanwhile, PTT is negotiating for a 11 billion-pound-per-year supply contract with Middle East liquefied natural gas exporters.
``We will introduce LNG-based feedstock to stage two of the NPC III plants,'' Chuchottaworn said.
The second stages of the petrochemical projects are being challenged by rising engineering and construction costs as well as limitations on installing submarine gas pipelines, necessary for supplying natural gas from the Gulf of Thailand, he said.