UpdateThai court blocks 2 Mab Ta Phut projects, allows 74 to go ahead

02 September 2010 13:34  [Source: ICIS news]

Mab Ta Phut(updates with further details)

By Pearl Bantillo and Nurluqman Suratman

SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Thailand's Central Administrative Court on Thursday withdrew the operating licences of two expansion projects involving monoethylene glycol (MEG) and vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) at Mab Ta Phut, while freeing 74 others from suspension.

PTT Chemical's 95,000 tonne/year MEG expansion project failed to secure the court’s approval, said a source at its parent firm, PTT.

"The operating licence for the MEG [project] has been withdrawn so we would have to go through the health and environmental impact assessment on this [project] again," said the source from PTT, adding that the group's 25 other projects at Mab Ta Phut had been freed from court suspension.

PTT, the parent of PTT Chemical, is the largest oil and gas player in Thailand. It has three other petrochemical affiliates, namely PTT Aromatics, Integrated Refinery & Petrochemical Complex and Thai Oil.

Thai Plastic and Chemicals' (TPC) 90,000 tonne/year VCM expansion also failed to secure approval, according to market sources.

The Thai court decided on the fate of the Mab Ta Phut projects on Thursday, about a year since they were suspended on environmental grounds, after the government released a list of what it considered "environmentally harmful" industries.

The list excluded downstream petrochemical projects. The MEG project, however, is considered as an intermediate stream project, said an analyst.

PTT’s MEG project was supposed to expand the current 300,000 tonne/year facility at Mab Ta Phut via a debottlenecking process. The facility is being operated by TOC Glycol, a 100% subsidiary of PTT Chemical.

Completing all the required assessments on the plant would mean that it would not be able to operate for another three to six months, said a source from PTT Chemical.

Meanwhile, PTT Chemical's sixth gas separation plant made the cut and should be operating soon. This plant will provide feedstock that should boost the group's ethylene production.

Its operation would allow PTT Chemical to start commercial production at its new 250,000 tonne/year high density polyethylene (HDPE) plant at Mab Ta Phut by the end of the year, according to sources close to the company.

Thai conglomerate Siam Cement's projects were also released from court suspension.

These projects include a 350,000 tonne/year linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) plant and a 90,000 tonne/year methyl methacrylate (MMA) plant that should be completed by the end of the year, said a source from Siam Cement.

Meanwhile, construction of the company’s 220,000 tonne/year specialty elastomers plant and its 20,000 tonne/year cast sheet plant was expected to be completed in the second half of next year, said the source.

With additional reporting by Chow Bee Lin and Becky Zhang

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By: Pearl Bantillo
+65 6780 4359

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