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Thailand’s Banpu plans to raise coal output, looking at more shale gas

Thailand’s Banpu Pcl plans to raise annual coal production from around 40 to 60 million tonnes by 2020 and could consider more acquisitions in U.S. shale gas after an initial $500 million investment, its chief executive said on Wednesday.

Somruedee Chaimongkol told Reuters that although the company was also investing in renewable energy, in trading and in energy management systems, coal would represent up to 90 percent of revenues for a long time to come.

She said Banpu planned to raise coal production from existing mines in China, Indonesia and Australia, but could consider buying more assets if they were not far from existing mining infrastructure.

Somruedee said Banpu was close to completing its planned $500 million investment in the Marcellus shale gas formation in northeast Pennsylvania. Its most recent acquisition, in October, brought the total spent there to $417 million.

Banpu could potentially increase gas production to 200 million cubic feet per day from its current 150 million cubic feet, she said, adding that Banpu is considering “putting more money on top of the $500 million” in shale gas.

“We are looking only in the northeast Pennsylvania Marcellus play. It is the sweetest spot for shale gas,” she said, without giving further details.

Banpu was encouraged by U.S. President Donald Trump’s energy policies favourable to coal and natural gas, she said.

In its power generation business, Banpu wants to increase installed capacity from 2,100 megawatts (MW) to 4,300 MW by 2025, Somruedee said. Banpu was looking to invest in Vietnam and was also studying Myanmar, she said.

The company reported a surge in profits in the third quarter ending in September thanks to higher coal prices. It expects to sell coal at an average $90 per tonne over the next year with that falling to $75 to $85 per tonne in the longer term, Somruedee said.
Source: Reuters (Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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