EARTH Thailand

PTT mulls new court petition

Bangkok Post 26 January 2010  

Higher court last gasp on Map Ta Phut

PTT, the national energy flagship, is considering resubmitting its petition requesting its halted projects in Map Ta Phut restart to a higher court after the Administrative Court rejected its petitions on Friday, said company spokesman Atthapol Ruekphiboon.

"We are discussing the issue with related state agencies and our legal advisers to resubmit the petition to the upper court, as this is probably our last chance [for the affected projects to restart]," Mr Atthapol said.

"If we fail again, PTT will have to implement our back-up plan as the impact is quite serious. We may have to delay our annual maintenance of the second and third gas separation plants for a while to ensure adequate liquefied petroleum gas output to serve domestic demand," said Mr Atthapol.

Last Friday, the Central Administrative Court rejected 30 petitions submitted by business operators in Map Ta Phut, whose projects were suspended by court order pending the completion of terms set out under Section 67 of the 2007 Constitution.

PTT owns 18 of those projects, including a 28-billion-baht gas-separation plant. Siam Cement, Thailand's largest industrial conglomerate, has 18 projects affected.

Under Section 67, projects that might be harmful to people or the community need an environmental assessment as well as a health impact assessment (HIA). The independent body required to assess health impacts has not yet been established.

The petitioning companies hoped the court would rule in their favour because they tried to follow the court's guidelines on the 11 projects allowed to proceed earlier, such as changing locations and introducing pollution-reduction equipment.

The Industry Ministry estimated a lengthy stand-off could cost 600 billion baht.

Sethaput Suthiwart-Narueput, an executive vice-president of Siam Commercial Bank, said a prolonged delay for the Map Ta Phut projects could cut GDP growth by between 0.3 to 0.5 percentage points this year.

Tisco Securities analyst Chaipat Thanawattano believes Map Ta Phut will cut PTT's net profit by 0.5% a month, adding that under its previous plan, nine of its 18 affected projects should have generated significant income this year.

"We maintain our forecast that all PTT suspended projects will be delayed by one year as it takes at least six months to one year to complete all of the requirements," said Mr Chaipat.

Korbsak Sabhavasu, the secretary-general to the Prime Minister, said a new committee, chaired by Sorayud Petchtrakul, an adviser to the industry minister, would be formed to address the problem. The eight-member team consists of officials from the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry, the Industry Ministry, the Public Health Ministry and the Board of Investment, with Mr Korbsak an adviser.

Shares of PTT closed on the Stock Exchange of Thailand at 226 baht, down three baht, in trade worth 2 billion, while SCC was down nine baht to 216 baht, in trade worth 688.3 billion baht.