First BIMSTEC Energy Ministers’ Conference
4th October 2005, New Delhi
Speech of H.E. Viset Choopiban
Energy Minister, Thailand

Mr. Chairman,

Excellencies, Ministers, and Heads of Delegations,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am very honored to join this first (15t) BIMSTEC Ministerial Conference on Energy Cooperation. And I wish to commend the government of the Republic of India for hosting this excellent meeting and according us with very warm hospitality.

Also with this regard, I am very pleased that our BIMSTEC community has two new members, Bhutan and Nepal. I strongly believe that, with more concerted effort and wider cooperation on energy development in the region, we can mitigate energy-related problems and overcome the challenges that face all of us.

As we all recognize, energy is an important driver of economic growth of all countries. Given the recent event of continuous and sustained high¬ oil-price, our gathering today will be an opportunity for us to jointly determine the guidance to enhance our regional energy development and to consider the Plan of Action to effectively achieve our objectives.

In the BIMSTEC region, we are now facing multiple challenges of sustainable energy development such as : increasing energy demand, harnessing vast local natural resources for import substitution, making available cleaner and cheaper energy, developing an international and intra¬regional market and an energy grid while exploiting the economy of scale, reforming an inefficient power sector and attracting private investment, conserving natural resources and protecting environment. If BIMSTEC economies are to grow at a higher rate and overcome poverty, we will have to tackle with the energy tight spot not only at our respective national levels, but also collectively at the regional levels.

For Thailand, during the past few years, our economic performance has been doing well, with the average growth rate of more than 6 % per year. This has induced more growth in energy consumption. Last year, the demand for primary commercial energy increased by 7.6%. We have witnessed the deficit between energy demand and energy production has grown larger and larger. Furthermore, most of our deficit is met through imported oil.

To sustain the level of our economic development and limit impacts from high oil price, Thailand has re-doubled our efforts in energy conservation campaign and promotion of alternative fuels, such as Ethanol, Bio-diesel and Natural Gas for Vehicle (NGV). The results, so far, is promising. Our Ethanol program is very successful, where the demand for Ethanol-blended gasoline or GASOHOL (EIO) has increased 10 folds for the past 9 months.

And with the current consumption rate of 2.7 million liter per day of GASOHOL, coupled with a strong and continuous campaign in energy savings & conservation has helped Thailand reduce overall oil importation by almost 10% on year-to-year basis.

Another measure recently introduced is by means of using Natural Gas in Transportation sector.

NGV is the best way of utilizing Thailand’s domestic natural gas resources in the transportation sector, because it replaces 100% of imported oil. With rising oil price, more taxi, and more public buses, and trucking fleet, will be encouraged to convert to NGY. Our National Oil Company, PTT, has also implemented the government policy of building and expanding NGV stations and infrastructure, to serve more NGV customers. At present, there are only 40 NGV stations in Bangkok and surrounding area. By the end of this year, there will be 60 NGV stations, and 3 years from now, we have planned to extend to 260 NGV stations, which should provide enough infrastructures for expanding fleets of NGV cars. We envisage that by the end of 2008, we expect to have 260,000 NGV vehicles using natural gas throughout the country.

From this recent encounter, Thailand is willing to share our experiences with a,ll BIMSTEC member countries.

However, it is appreciated that BIMSTEC members are in various stages of energy development and our energy situations also vary. Therefore, this Forum will offer us the opportunity not only to share experience and information but also to reinforce our energy cooperation through setting up appropriate action plan for various cooperative projects so as to achieve sustainability of energy development in the region.

In this regard, with the intention to help speed up the cooperation agreements as prescribed in the Declaration, Thailand is pleased to announce on this occasion our offer of support and assistance, especially under the projects that Thailand is the lead country, namely the Trans-BIMSTEC Gas Pipeline Project and the BIMSTEC Trans- Power Exchange and Development Project, aiming to create the optimum benefits for all member countries. The proposed support and assistance include the following:

For the Trans BIMSTEC Gas Pipeline Project, Thailand wishes to share with all BIMSTEC member countries the knowledge and experience of turning the abundant natural gas resources into commercial products and also to create value-added of gas utilization to be more efficient and effective. In this regard, Thai-land would be pleased to offer technical support in the form of scholarships and training courses to all member countries. starting from the year 2006 to 2010. Total of 10 scholarships will be provided.

As for the BIMSTEC Trans-Power Exchange and Development Project, Thailand would like to announce that technical support on power exchange and development will be given to member countries through training on various courses such as power system planning and maintenance planning. In this regard, Thailand would be pleased to welcome all BIMSTEC member countries to participate in this program.

In order to enhance Energy Security of the region and to utilize optimally and efficiently the rich energy resources of the region, Thailand wishes to propose the undertaking of a Workshop on the “Petroleum Reserve in the BIMSTEC” of which the outcome would be the important information for petroleum supply, leading to further steps of development plan on a regional scale.

With regard to the Promotion of New and Renewable Energy in the region, it is. recognized that capacity building is one important factor to accommodate the sustainable development and implementation in this field of energy. Development of new and renewable energy is also one of the top national agendas of Thailand, with a view to reducing our dependency on fossil fuels, particularly oil. The Thai government has provided financial supports for the development and implementation of a variety of new and renewable energy projects.

Therefore, in order to pool our strengths for capacity building in this field, Thailand is willing to host a Workshop and site visits on rice husk and renewable energy sources in Thailand.

Another renewable energy technology that has proved to be successful in Thailand is the “Community Scale Bio-diesel Production Process.” We can use our domestic agricultural products to produce energy or so-called biofuels, and this may be replicated by interested member countries. Nevertheless, there is still vast potential to develop energy from other types of agricultural crop such as jatropha and palm oil. In this regard, Thailand finds it is essential to jointly work together more in the research and development activities in order to investigate and share experiences on the use of agricultural crops for biofuels production in BIMSTEC region.

Excellencies, our concerted efforts in transforming the rich endowment of natural resources of the region into energy-related cooperative activities will bring about prosperity and growth to all our economies. However, it has been reported that most of the projects have progressed on a very moderate pace with some hindrance. Therefore, Thailand would urge each country to actively participate in the project within the due date and timeframe in order to obtain more pragmatic and resulted-oriented activities.

Excellencies and Distinguished Participants,

This meeting is really a good gesture of our active cooperation bringing the accomplishment of energy development in the region. I would like to reiterate here once again my sincere thanks for all the efforts made by our senior officials making the meeting a very successful one. There is yet a tremendous scope for collaboration in the energy sector awaiting for us. I am confident that, with stronger and closer cooperation, as what we are doing now, will result in a better focused and coordinated consensus in the energy development directions and more sharing of the technology know¬how to transform a vast potential of riatural gas, renewable energy and hydropower resources in the BIMSTEC region to energy for the better living for all our peoples.

To keep the momentum of our close cooperation, Thailand would be willing to host the next BIMSTEC Ministerial Conference on Energy Cooperation, the date of which will be informed to you through diplomatic channel.

To this end, I wish to assure the continued support and cooperation of the Thai government to the BIMSTEC Energy Sector Cooperation.

Thank you very much.

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