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Thailand’s Naphtha Glut Reflects Stagnant Gasoline, PTT Says

Thailand’s surplus of light and heavy naphtha reflects “stagnant” demand for gasoline, according to PTT Energy Solutions Co.

“Thailand is more stagnant in gasoline demand,” Bhawana Suphavilai, president of PTT Energy Solutions Co., said at a conference today in Singapore. The company is a unit of PTT Pcl, the country’s biggest energy company. Demand for diesel and jet fuel is growing in Thailand, she said.

The naphtha surplus means that the country’s refiners are finding it more profitable to turn naphtha into petrochemicals rather than gasoline, she said. Car owners are pumping less gasoline as oil prices have risen, and they are also turning to alternatives such as biodiesel, she said.

“This is forcing all oil companies in Thailand to integrate with petrochemicals in order for synergy,” Suphavilai said. “Refining is no longer as easy as before. It’s like with bones -- you have to find a place on them to eat.”

About 46 percent of Thailand’s ethylene plants run solely on naphtha, according to Bloomberg calculations. The country is Southeast Asia’s biggest producer of ethylene, the petrochemical used to make plastics.

Brent oil, a benchmark for two-thirds of the world’s crude, has risen 17 percent this year and was at $109.90 a barrel at 5:58 p.m. Singapore time on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. Futures settled at $126.65 a barrel on April 8, the highest in more than three years.

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