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Thai baht appreciates to strongest level in 7 years

More foreign investment expected to flow into Thailand’s energy sector

Oil prices won’t reach 30 baht a liter: Ministry of Energy

Thai baht appreciates to strongest level in 7 years

The Thai baht last week appreciated to 38.03 to the US dollar, the strongest in seven years, before weakening slightly to stay around 38.07-38.08 to the dollar at last Monday morning’s session.

A money dealer at Bank of Ayudhya said that the Thai currency strengthened in the same direction with other currencies in the region since there was a shift of investment into the stock markets and an expectation that interest rates of the countries in the region would increase further.

The dealer projected that the baht would continue to appreciate to 38 to the dollar in the near future and perhaps to 37 to the dollar by the end of this year.

Finance Ministry Spokesman Somchai Sajjapongse said the continued strengthening of the baht to 38 to the dollar stemmed from an inflow of foreign funds to acquire shares in a steel company listed on the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET). However, he believes the appreciation of the local currency would proceed only in the short run. The Bank of Thailand (BOT) is closely monitoring the baht movement.

Should the Thai currency continue to strengthen due to an improvement in the economic fundamental, he said, the ministry would consider how the appreciation would impact the country’s exports.

Still, he believes that exports have not yet been adversely affected since purchase orders are normally placed approximately 2-3 months in advance. (TNA)

More foreign investment expected to flow into Thailand’s energy sector

Thailand’s energy sector is expected to attract more foreign investment projects in the future, thanks to high growth potential of local energy firms, according to PTT Public Company Limited (PTT).

PTT President Prasert Bunsumpun revealed that PTT, the country’s petroleum giant, is now listed among the world’s top 500 largest public companies.

According to a recently published annual ranking of Forbes, a US-based globally known magazine, PTT was ranked the 372nd among the world’s top 500 largest public companies limited in 2006, said Prasert.

“PTT is the only Thai firm listed on the board of the world’s top 500 largest public companies for the second consecutive year, ranked 372nd position this year, up from the 425th place last year,” he noted.

According to the Forbes’ annual ranking, Thai Oil Public Company Limited, a PTT affiliate, was also among the world’s top 2,000 best companies this year - positioned at the 1,330th, up from its 1,595th place last year, Prasert said.

The better positions of both PTT and Thai Oil on the Forbes’ lists reflect high growth potential of Thai energy firms, which will boost foreign investors’ confidence in the Thai energy sector, according to the PTT chief.

“This is expected to lead to more foreign investment projects flowing into the country’s energy sector in the future,” Prasert projected. (TNA)

Oil prices won’t reach 30 baht a liter: Ministry of Energy

Thailand’s Ministry of Energy believes that oil prices on the domestic market have peaked, and that prices in Bangkok and adjacent areas will not reach Bt30 (US$0.75) despite possible new hikes of world oil prices per liter because the cold season period when crude oil prices normally increase has passed.

However, gasoline may rise when demand in Europe and the US increases during the forthcoming tourist season, he said.

Speaking about the news threats made by Thailand’s Oil Traders Association to close gas stations unless they were allowed to raise marketing margins, he said that this would not happen. There would not be a shortage of diesel, either, he said, adding that if Thai refineries must close for maintenance, oil traders are ready to import oil products to meet the domestic demand.

Energy saving campaigns have significantly helped to reduce oil consumption, Viset added. Thailand’s oil consumption in the first quarter of this year dropped from last year. Diesel consumption has fallen from 52-53 million liters a day one year ago to a current level of 50 million liters a day. Similarly, gasoline use from January to March has fallen from 21-22 million liters a day a year ago to 19 million liters a day currently. Oil consumption has not increased in proportion to the 5 – 6 percent economic growth, the minister explained.

The Ministry of Energy is cooperating with commercial banks to provide loans for businesses and households converting to energy saving electrical equipment. It is expected that the project will help reduce energy use by at least 10 percent, said the energy minister. (TNA)