Thai firm gets Vietnam government go-ahead to apply for mega refinery license

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The oil refinery of Thailand's top energy company PPT at home. Photo courtesy of the company

The Vietnamese government has given the green light to a Thai state company to apply for a license to build a US$27-billion oil refinery despite objections by PetroVietnam, which owns the country's sole refinery now.

The government has instructed the central province of Binh Dinh to get Thailand's top energy firm Public Company Limited (PTT) to apply for a license, officials said at a conference Sunday.

A Tuoi Tre report said the second stage of the preparation process would involve the Thai company hiring an independent consultant to assess the environmental impacts of the refinery, which will take 2,000 hectares of the province's Nhon Hoi Economic Zone.

It is expected to take another two years to choose a contractor after inviting bids. Construction is slated to start in the middle of 2016, last four years and provide first products for sale from the middle of 2020, processing 660,000 crude oil barrels a day, which would make it one of the largest in the world.

The plant will import crude oil from the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America to produce around 11 filtered oil products and ten petrochemical products.

The government and several analysts have been supportive of the plant, given demand for the products in the country and the economic improvements the plant would bring to the poor central province.

Officials said the new plant's capacity is almost five times that of the country's only existing refinery, Dung Quat, in the central province of Quang Ngai.

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The state-owned PetroVietnam has objected to this argument. It wrote to the Ministry of Industry and Trade last month, after the ministry showed support for the new plant, saying the project would upset the supply-demand balance and that it has not been included in a government road map for the oil and gas industry until 2025.

The group said although its current plant is not able to meet the country's demand, it will start building one in the northern province of Thanh Hoa in May with a capacity of 10 million tons.

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