Energy crackdown, Wadah politicians added to south advisory


The government is ramping up energy-saving measures encompassing both government units and private organizations to help avert a possible blackout due to a scheduled disruption in the supply of natural gas from Myanmar taking place in the middle of this year.

The moves are to be announced today after an emergency meeting at the Ministry of Energy chaired by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

The Cabinet yesterday approved in principle a policy encouraging energy-saving measures at state agencies, on business premises and in households, as the halt in natural gas delivery from Myanmar will mean the loss of 1,100 million cubic feet per day from April 4-12. All government units have been told to keep electricity bills at 10 per cent of total expenditures, or face a cut in other expenditure.

The Ministry of Energy has been assigned to monitor the daily use of power, petrol and electricity starting today and continuing into April, when Myanmar’s Yadana gas field will be shut down for drilling-rig maintenance.

PTT senior executive vice president Chakree Buranakanon (จักรี บุรณาคนนท์) said the company, as a partner in the Yadana gas field, has negotiated with operator Total several times seeking a postponement of the shutdown. He said a delay of three or four days would ease the situation, as power consumption usually declines during Songkran.

As a short-term measure, PTT plans to raise gas output from the Gulf of Thailand during the period and to reduce natural gas consumption at its separation plants.

Nonetheless, the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat) has admitted that power “brownouts” – drops in voltage in the power-supply system – were possible in the South and Bangkok during the period, without the high-voltage pressure from power plants in the country’s west.

In other matters, Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung has appointed nine members of the Wadah group as his advisers on the deep South.

The move has been criticized as some observers have accused members of the group of being linked to insurgents in the region.

Most of those selected are well known in political circles and several have been cabinet ministers and members of parliament.

The Wadah group comprises influential Muslim politicians from several political parties. It once dominated seats in Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat.

Chalerm said he appointed the Wadah members as his advisers because they are Muslims who are well aware of the problems plaguing the predominantly Islamic southernmost provinces and are respected by residents.

He affirmed that if their opinions prove useful, they will also be asked to attend a meeting of the Centre for Implementation of Policies and Strategies for Solving Problems in Southern Border Provinces. Chalerm expects to hold a meeting with the center next week.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra yesterday underlined that the selection was Chalerm’s personal decision while Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha said Chalerm had thought carefully before deciding to appoint the advisers and adding that the deputy prime minister needs the help of those who are knowledgeable on the problems of the South.


source : bangkokpost


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