Friday, 8 February 2008

PTT expanding into palm oil production

PTT expanding into palm oil production

New Green Energy unit enters IndonesiaYUTHANA PRAIWAN

PTT Plc, the country's largest energy company, is gearing up to invest in a palm oil production plant in Indonesia by acquiring major stakes in the Indonesian palm oil producer PT Mitra Aneka Rezeki (PT MAR). Prasert Bunsumpun, the PTT president and CEO, said that a new wholly owned company called PTT Green Energy Co (PTTGE) would be established to invest in the plantations and crude palm oil production with registered capital of US$28 million or about 942.5 million baht.

PTT's wholly owned subsidiary, Kalimantan Thai Palm Pte (KTP), which was registered in Singapore a few days ago, acquired 95% of PT MAR from former shareholders for $14.725 million.

PT MAR has registered capital of five billion rupiah or 20 million baht, and holds a licence for palm tree plantations in western Kalimantan.

The land covers around 87,500 rai, of which 19,375 rai would be used for commercial palm oil production. Another 31,250 rai are in the early stages of plantation and 36,875 rai would be ready for planting in the future.

Mr Prasert said the Indonesian arm was preparing to construct a new crude palm oil refinery expected to be completed 2011-12.

The company sees great potential for crude palm oil due to rising concern over global warming and soaring fuel prices. It plans to sell most of its output to the local palm oil industry, and export the remainder to Asia.

The company is considering building other plants for upstream crude palm oil products.
Mr Prasert said the move was part of PTT's plan to seek high returns on overseas investment.
Anon Sirisaengtaksin, PTT's senior executive vice-president for corporate strategy and development, said the group had been investing in biofuel for a long time in its bid to tap high global demand.

PTTGE would act as the main vehicle to invest in new businesses for the group, particularity alternative energy and ethanol. It would also help secure raw materials for biodiesel, which faces supply constraints.
Mr Anon would not elaborate on the current production output and the investment value of the Indonesia project.

''We had prepared a long time ago to expand palm oil production in Thailand but the limited plantation land and the process of palm tree farming means the trees take several years to begin producing returns,'' he said.

He added that some of PT MAR's oil output would be imported for PTT's affiliate Thai Oleochemicals, with a daily capacity of 600,000 litres of biofuel (B100).
PTT recently moved to join with the power producer Egco Group to build wind farms and methane energy plants in the provinces.

Biodiesel is a mixture of plant-based oil and diesel that emits fewer greenhouse gasses than pure diesel. However, some environmentalists criticise the move toward biodiesel, saying that it leads to deforestation in tropical rainforests.

PTT shares closed yesterday on the Stock Exchange of Thailand at 310 baht, down six baht, in trade worth 1.2 billion baht.