Thailand Amends Law to Give More Energy Exploration Options
BANGKOK, March 30 (Reuters) - Thailand's military-appointed assembly approved an amendment to a petroleum law on Thursday which will give companies more options for exploration and production operations.
Currently, oil and gas companies must get a concession to operate in a Thai field. The proposed amendment will add the option of striking production sharing agreements (PSA) or service contracts.
Thailand's Erawan gas concession, operated by Chevron Corp. , and the Bongkot gas concession, operated by state-backed PTTEP Exploration and Production PCL, expire in 2022 and 2023.
The government wanted new arrangements in place before these are concessions were renegotiated.
During the parliamentary session, a contested clause allowing the government to set up a National Oil Company was dropped from the bill. By taking a stake through a national energy company, the government could get a share of the profits from any block while also potentially bearing some of the risk.
Although the majority-state owned PTT Pcl is the biggest shareholder in PTTEP, private shareholders still have a say over its activities and also take some of the profits.
Parliament said the cabinet must set up a committee within 60 days to conduct further studies on how a state company should operate. The study must be completed within one year.
Critics say such a company is not necessary and could be an avenue for corruption.
(Reporting by Panarat Thepgumpanat and Patpicha Tanakasempipat; editing by David Clarke)
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