Archive for June, 2008

1,2 million vehicles use LPG

Some interesting figures about LPG usage, published by Nation.

It’s easy to set the equation of the current problem :

-explosive growth of demand (look at chart of sales)
-huge difference between local and world prices, because of the subsidy
-local production doesn’t cover consumption anymore, so imports -at high prices– are necessary

The Energy Ministry showed that during the first five months of the year, 600,000 vehicles were fitted with LPG engines. This brought the total of LPG-fuelled vehicles to 1.2 million. Demand thus rose from 47,000 tonnes a month last year to 52,000-55,000 tonnes in March.

Total LPG demand thus rose to 360,000-380,000 tonnes a month, against a production capacity of 300,000-330,000tonnes. Exacerbating the situation was PTT Aromatics and Refining’s shutdown last month of its facility for annual maintenance, cutting supply by 10,000 tonnes a month. Also, imported LPG could not reach Bangkok stations last Saturday, due to docking problems for ships transporting it from Chon Buri.

Due to subsidies, local refineries are using LPG in their operations rather than selling it cheaply, at about US$300 (Bt10,000) per tonne against the world price of nearly $900 per tonne. Rising oil prices has also sparked higher demand for LPG from motorists.

LPG shortages : another symbol of mismanagement

It’s Economy 101. Even Psychology 101. But still too difficult to understand for the thai authorities.

Since a few months, we know that prices of LPG will increase in july. PTT was very clear. But not the government, as usual.

The subsidies cost too much (read here).

In order to avoid hoarding, they refused to gives details (how much, and when exactly).

It was a mistake. Because people can fantasize.

It would have been more efficient to say “LPG prices will increase on july 1, by %”. But such transparency would have created “inflation expectations”, right ? Exactly like with NGV (+41 % announced for end of december).

The government is so terrified that they try to postpone to the very last minute any prices hikes.

And since a few days… well… we have shortages (read testimonies of drivers in Bangkok, on ThaiVisa forum, and in Pattaya).

Because hoarding and probably because of mismanagement of imports.

The Energy Ministry warned dealers on Sunday against hoarding liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), as thousands of taxis had to stop running because of the hoarding.

Permanent Secretary for Energy Pornchai Rujiprapa said he was confident that there would be no LPG shortage in the country but he did not address hoarding for a suspected price rise on Wednesday.

Taxi drivers told passengers that gas stations had shut down on Saturday amidst reports that the price of LPG will be allowed to float as of Wednesday (July 1). They expected the cost to double from 11 baht to 22 baht per litre. (Bangkok Post)

Another disaster, perfect symbol of mismanagement and utter stupidity ! I mean it’s becoming laughable.

There is no point to warn dealers, after the war, with the little fists of the Energy Minister… And there is no point to deny the problem of shortage.

The only solution was to play transparency card, right from the beginning, with full disclosure of all the datas, in order to allow people to anticipate.

But Thailand continues on the Zimbabwe’s path. With a smile.

UPDATE 1
The Commerce Ministry also shows his little fists. Commerce Ministry permanent secretary Siripol Yodmuangcharoen Sunday said he received a report from the Internal Trade Department that some operators had been hoarding the LPG ahead of the price hike.

“Such hoarding is illegal,” Siripol said, “We will take harsh actions against the offenders”. (Nation)

UPDATE 2
The little game continues this morning : “Permanent Secretary for Energy Pornchai Rujiprapa on Monday affirmed that prices of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) or cooking gas would not be raised by July 1 as many expected, but conceded they would be revised within a month.. (TNA).

Director-General of the Department of Internal Trade says the price of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) will not decrease on July 1st as the Energy Policy Board has yet called a meeting to discuss the price hike. (PRD)

It’s crystal clear ! They need to organize… a meeting in order to set the date for the increase… 😉

UPDATE 3
About one fifth of Bangkok’s taxis had to stay idle Monday after many service stations ran out of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). “There’s nothing to fill these taxis’ tanks,” Siam Taxi Cooperative president Witoon Naewpanich said. (Nation)

Chart, imports of oil : value and volume until april 2008 and statistical glitch

Here is an update of my chart, with datas for april.

(Source EPPO, Table 2.1-4).

The drop in april (from 944 000 barrels per day to 830 000) was certainly caused by Songkran holiday. As for the value, EPPO says that the average price of imported crude oil in april was 105,35 USD per barrel (versus 99,11 in march).

As you know, we have to watch carefully the energy bill, because of the surge of oil prices… and the effects on the trade balance… therefore on the THB (currency). Everything is linked… Particularily when we speak about oil.

Anyway. I would like to add that the datas provided by EPPO and the Customs Department (compiled by the Bank Of Thailand) are different.

For instance in march, EPPO gives a total value of 2,9 billions USD for import of crude oil… While the Customs state 2,4 billions (roughly 13 % less) ! 9 months over 12, EPPO’s figures were higher than Customs.

And the exchange rates THB-USD are different too… ! And worse, even if you take in account the different exchange rates… you stil get different total in THB and USD… It prooves that the core of the problem is… volume.

I guess both have the same definition of a barrel of crude oil… I hope so… 😉 But for some reasons, the EPPO and Customs, both official departments, don’t have the same set of datas… Frustrating.

Here is a small chart about the value in USD of imports of crude oil (crude oil only), for both.

And it shows that one of the problem of the oil issue… is datas. I mean BP, EIA, IEA… prestigious and powerfull sources of infos… compile datas for production, consumption, imports, exports… for all the countries… provided by all the countries… after thoses datas are studied, charted, analyzed by everybody, peak oil believers and non-believers, government, professionals etc. …

My point : some data sets are not reliable. And worse : may vary from time to time.

Bottom line : when you read that “Global oil consumption grew by 1 mb/d in 2007” (source BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2008), you have to understand that there is a serious… fog around the math magic !

Okay, okay, what is important is the trend. Even if your data set is flawed, you can still make valid observations with variations.

But, if we start speaking about absolute numbers (like consumption was 1 million barrel per day higher in 2007 compare to 2006)… I mean… we need to be careful… nobody did actually and really count those barrels… 😉

Sounds stupid to say but I can’t find any clearer way to say it. 😉

The oil issue is just too burning, too essential, with too many geopolitics and economics links… it’s impossible to believe that all the datas are genuine and/or right.

There is always a fog around the datas whether it’s deliberate or not.

Not enough subsidized diesel for truckers

Truckers are demanding three million litres of subsidised diesel a day from the government to help them cope with the rising cost of fuel. Thongyu Khongkhan, secretary-general of the Land Transport Confederation of Thailand, said yesterday that the request for three million litres a day was based on 20,000 trucks that needed the government’s assistance nationwide.

According to Mr Thongyu, the 20,000 trucks include 2,600 vehicles operating in the Northeast, another 5,000 that serve the export and import sectors, and about 4,000 others running in the South.

The proposal was made to the Transport Ministry, which will have to forward it to the Energy Ministry, the expected procurer of the subsidised diesel. (Bangkok Post)

So per month : 90 million litres.

Last week, the Transport Ministry said :

However, Mr Piyaphan said not all truck operators would receive a subsidy of three baht per litre of diesel as earlier demanded by the federation. The Energy Ministry could allocate only 122 million litres of subsidised priced diesel per month for a period of six months.

The government has so far knocked three baht a litre off the price of diesel for fishery, farm and bus operators. This leaves only 40-50 million litres of cheap diesel per month for truckers.

40 to 50 millions litres available… Against 90 asked by unions. That leaves… a gap. And an opportunity for more conflicts and other negociations…

Furthermore, this scheme is likely to create anger amongst the trucks companies. Why some of them could enjoy a subsidy, and others don’t ? Who will set the criterias ?

It’s obvious that this scheme is going to explode into the hands of the government.

And eventually… what we will do in december ? Back to square one…

Eros on line and public security : the thai police lacks hand tools

Holly Molly ! I’ve managed to put two pictures of a hot chick on this blog ! I thought I’d never make it.

😉

Now I can quietly wait for the traffic to grow. Exponentially of course. It’s more interesting than charts about oil consumption or trade deficit, right ?

Allez, back to topic and let’s hit one more time the thai police (it’s sunday, God’s day, even though it’s really too easy).

So the Finest have found another matter of public security to care of, and with their high sense of duty, they went on “fifth gear” mode to tackle the “problem” (because there is a problem, a big one).

So this time, what’s the fuss about ?

A girl… hum… 19 years old… hum… Chinese living in Beijing… hum… her skin is soooooo white… hum… who wants to raise money, apparently, to save the earth quake victims… by uploading wink-wink pictures on her blog… hum… She’s now a celebrity in China. Fair enough. She’ll get a good husband.

But… what’s the point with the Royal Thai Police ? !

Public security, I told you ! And possibly, national security.

Police are monitoring a Chinese website on which a girl posts her nude pictures to raise funds for Sichuan earthquake victims. Pol Maj-Gen Wisut Wanichbutr, commander of the Economic and Technology-related Crime Suppression Division (ETCSD), said 19-year-old Xiao Yun’s website is creating a buzz in the cyber community, but it might be illegal.

ETCSD inspector Pol Lt-Col Panya Cha-emthes said the distribution or display of nude pictures is subject to prosecution under the computer crime law passed this year.

Webmasters of such sites are liable for a jail term of up to five years and/or a fine of up to 100,000 baht.

Those who duplicate the pictures and post them online will also be punished.

Ms Xiao caused a media sensation in her country after she displayed hundreds of pictures showing herself in lingerie and in the nude on the website to raise cash for the victims of the May 12 earthquake in Sichuan province. (Bangkok Post)

Is it clear ? If you visit this website or if you copy and send the pictures to your friends by e-mail, you’ll be punished. 😉

Believe me, the Royal Thai Police knows very well how to answer the “call of duty” when it’s necessary (or could it be “call of nature” ?)

Surapong calls for Buddha’s help to fight inflation

Surapong, Finance Minister and deputy prime minister, told a seminar entitled “The Energy Crisis: Thailand’s Economic Scenario”, hosted by Krungthep Turakij, that middle-path economic policies were necessary at this time, based on Lord Buddha’s Kalamasutra lesson, so that the problem was managed properly.

“Our past beliefs must be examined to see if they are suitable for the current situation. Many things that happened in the past do not necessary repeat themselves now. We must not be held back by the old beliefs,” he told the audience.

He insisted he was not critical of the Bank of Thailand, which inclines towards higher interest rates to tackle inflation, but said the central bank must not attach itself to the old theories and should instead welcome new ideas. (Nation)

Let’s see… The BOT is willing to increase rates… But Surapong says that the BOT must welcome new ideas…

Is it like a… pressure on the central bank ? You fool, of course not ! The BOT is independent ! I mean it’s written in the law. And we all know that the law is sacred in Thailand. 😉

Furthermore, what would be those “new ideas” to fight inflation ? What would do Lord Buddha in this situation ? Hum… tricky question.

Last word : I’m wondering if Surapong thinks that his “boost” policy and other “stimulus packages” are… what he calls… “middle-path economic policies” ? 😉

Another perfectly normal day in Thailand.

Joke of the Day : police needs 1 month to find out if Thaksin is linked to “pastrygate”

If you missed the saga of the “Pastrygate”, read here.

So where are we today ?

-2 lawyers in jail for 6 months
-1 “in the nature”… everybody is looking for him, even though he said that he was not hiding. 😉
-and of course, we have an ongoing investigation now to find out who gave the money and for what purposes, if the money was really a bribe.

For that matter, the Finest (nickname for the Royal Thai Police), are in the starting blocks, like a bunch of horses on heavy dope before a race…

Amnuay Nimmano, commander of Metropolitan Police Division 1, said his subordinates would need about a month to find out if Mr Thaksin was connected to the cash-laden snack pack given to a court official on June 10. (Bangkok Post)

Two comments :

-One month would be like a world record for the thai police…

-I’m wondering if they could use some… hard methods to find out the truth, like in the South for instance (have a look on the report of Human Rights Watch here or another one there).
I’m mean it should be easy to make the lawyer talking, no ?

😉

Of course not, that’s against the law. Better to trust the skills of the Royal Thai Police…

See you in one month for the result of this investigation… And don’t forget to bring the popcorn.


Thailand Crisis

Coup, Economic slowdown, Terror In the South... The situation is worsening in Thailand. Bumpy road like often before.

But this time, it's different.

The key to understand the present turmoil is the inevitable... succession of King Bhumibol.