BANGKOK, June 12 (Reuters) - State-owned Thai oil and gas company PTT Pcl said on Friday it would cut its investment budget across the group by 10-15% this year and some projects will be delayed as partners face challenges from the coronavirus.
Chief Executive Auttapol Rerkpiboon, who took up the post last month, said the PTT group faced “double effects” from the oil price slump and the coronavirus outbreak.
“All the projects that have been approved will go forward, but we will review and prioritize those in the pipeline,” he told reporters.
PTT has six flagship companies including PTT Exploration and Production Pcl, oil refiner IRPC Pcl and electricity firm Global Power Synergy Corporation Pcl and had planned to invest 250 billion baht ($8.08 billion) across the group this year.
“Of the 250 billion, we expect a reduction of around 10% to 15%,” Auttapol said. That would be a reduction of between 25 billion baht and 37.5 billion baht ($808 million-$1.2 billion).
For PTT alone, the company will reduce investment this year by 15 billion baht to 54 billion baht, he said.
Sales at its upstream arm, PTTEP are expected to drop by 7% and gas volumes are likely to decline by up to 10% this year, the CEO said, adding that he expects PTT’s refineries to have a utilization rate of around 90% to 100%.
The company has 66 billion baht from corporate bonds ready if needed, he said, but does not expect to use the entire sum and the company will maintain a debt-to-equity ratio below one.
Its debt-to-equity ratio in the first quarter was 0.55.
Auttapol said PTT would also focus on expanding its gas business overseas and position itself as a liquefied natural gas trading hub for the region as the Thai government liberalizes the gas market.
PTT’s gas business faced new competition in Thailand after local rivals Gulf Energy Development Pcl and B. Grimm Power Pcl received government licenses to import LNG.
Prior to 2017, PTT was the country’s sole LNG importer. ($1 = 30.9400 baht) (Reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng; Editing by Susan Fenton)