Thai firm sets up team to do feasibility study for mega Vietnam refinery

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Thailand's top energy firm Public Company Limited, or PTT, which plans to build a mega refinery in central Vietnam, has set up a team to do a feasibility study and upped the cost estimate by 10 percent to US$30 billion.

It got the nod from the government in May to apply for a license to build the 660,000-barrel-per-day Nhon Hoi refinery in Binh Dinh Province.

News website VnExpress quoted Sukrit Surabotsopon, PTT's senior executive vice president, as saying the firm has hired experts to do the study by May 2014.

Construction would take another five years, and the plant would begin operating in 2020 with a capacity of 33 million tons, almost five times that of the country's sole existing refinery and one of the largest in the world, he said.

The company said it would bring in 40 percent of the investment and its partners, the rest.

Allaying concerns about crude oil supply,Surabotsopon said PTT would be able to import its needs.

Economist Tran Du Lich, head of a consultant team established by the Vietnamese government, said the project's positive impacts on the economy ought to be the main focus rather than its suitability for Vietnam, an issue that several experts and the state-owned PetroVietnam have raised to call for its cancelation.

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PetroVietnam owns the country's sole refinery at Dung Quat, which, at 6.5 million tons, only meets 30 percent of national demand for oil products.

It is building a second at Nghi Son in the north-central province of Ha Tinh to increase the number to 70 percent, and has insisted that PTT's plant would upset the supply-demand situation.

Le Huu Loc, the Binh Dinh mayor, hoped the new refinery would turn Vietnam from an oil importer into an exporter.

It would create 30,000 direct jobs and 100,000 indirect ones, he estimated.

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