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PTT mulls foray into local retail propane market

Motorists drive past a PTT petrol station in Phnom Penh.
Motorists drive past a PTT petrol station in Phnom Penh. Pha Lina

PTT mulls foray into local retail propane market

Thai oil company PTT is looking to expand its retail liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) business into Cambodia and other Asian markets, a company executive said yesterday.

Bin Many Mialia, marketing division manager for PTT (Cambodia), said the company sees a rising demand for LPG – a mixture of propane and butane – which is a clean-burning fuel used in homes, factories and vehicles.

“We have conducted research on Cambodia‘s market,” he said. “This is normal for a business, as we need to expand our market for LPG to remain competitive.”

He added that PTT would aim to increase the use of LPG in Cambodia to about 4 to 5 per cent of the Kingdom’s total fuel market.

Thailand’s heavy fuel subsidies have created strong potential for LPG exports.

Thai ex-refinery LPG prices are fixed at $333 per tonne, well below the global propane price, currently more than $500 per tonne.

The retail price of LPG is currently 18.13 baht (52 cents) per kilo in Thailand, nearly half that of neighbouring countries.

However, Thailand banned the export of LPG in early 2008 after demand exceeded domestic supply. Mialia did not comment on whether this ban would be lifted.

He said PTT’s Bangkok headquarters was in charge of conducting the market research.

“We studied the project when the price of gasoline was high so as to prevent the price from increasing more,” Mialia said.

“We planned to sell LPG to substitute gasoline as its price was up. But now, even with gas prices down, it does not affect our project because it is a long-term plan.”

PTT has also conducted feasibility studies on the potential to establish liquefied natural gas (LNG) retail stations throughout Cambodia, Mialia confirmed.

“We have studied the potential use of LNG by big transportation vehicles, but the market is not clear in Cambodia,” he said.

“Vehicles are not designed for LNG here, so it is difficult to determine the market.”

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