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Legislature denies having secret plan on national oil company


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Legislature denies having secret plan on national oil company



THE NATIONAL Legislative Assembly yesterday denied concealing a plan to set up a controversial national oil company (NOC), Surachai Liangboonlertchai, NLA first vice president, said yesterday.


He said the government and the NLA did not want a confrontation between opponents and supporters of the idea, so section 10/1 NOC was scrapped from the Petroleum Bill.


The government will decide later whether or not to create the NOC, but at the moment there is a serious debate with sides arguing for and against the idea, he said. 


A feasibility study would have to be carried out first since many have questioned the lack of detail on the need to create the NOC. And if the government agreed to set up the NOC, then it could propose the new bill for the NLA to deliberate on, Suchachai added.


Meanwhile, NLA whip Jetn Sirathanont said that the government has one year in which to conduct a study and there must be a public hearing, since that is required by the new draft of the constitution. 


“Traditionally, the government has no obligation to follow the NLA’s observation, but this time it carries more weight, like a social contract,” he said, referring to the fact that the NOC was annexed to the bill. He also noted that it was not certain whether the NOC bill could submitted to the current NLA, which might be dissolved before the study is complete. 


The NLA passed the amendment to the Petroleum Act on Thursday. The new bill incorporates two more methods for oil and gas auction –production-sharing contract and service contract. So far there is only a concession contract. Some NLA members argued that should the production-sharing contract be used, the government may need to create the NOC. 


The People’s Network for Thai Energy Reform has also campaigned for the creation of a national oil company. But independent academic Praipol Koomsup said yesterday that there is no need to create the NOC, as the government could assign PTT Exploration and Production to manage a production-sharing contract. 


He warned that should the government set up the NOC to monopolise energy exploitation, as suggested by the People’s Network, it could end up like Venezuela’s government experiencing under-capacity of oil production due to lack of technology and inadequate capital.


Oil and gas exploration needs both technology and capital, he said. Alternatively, the Department of Mineral Fuels could take responsibility as it already supervises oil and gas concessions.


The existing concessions for both the Erawan and Bongkot fields, which account for a combined 70 per cent of the country’s oil and natural gas reserves, are due to expire in 2022 and 2023 respectively. 


Veerasak Pungrassamee, head of the Mineral Fuels Department, said the department would carry out a study to determine the best method to be used for the next auction of petroleum exploitations.


Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/news/national/30311039


-- © Copyright The Nation 2017-04-02
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