|Banpu’s proposed 1,200MW coal power project was deemed inconsistent with the national and local power strategies, Photo: Le Toan|
Voravudhi Linananda, CEO of Banpu, last week told local authorities that, “With our capacity and strengths as well as with our research, Banpu Group looks forward to co-operating with Thua Thien-Hue to invest in the development of energy resources in the province. We also want to invest in a project for biomass energy production.”
The capital for said biomass project has not been revealed, but Banpu’s proposed 1,200-megawatt (MW) coal-fired thermal power project had estimated costs of $1 billion. The moves are a part of the company’s expansion strategy in Vietnam, Indonesia, and Malaysia
A memorandum of understanding on the development of the power project was signed between Banpu and the province last year, but Thua Thien-Hue officials had expressed the caveat that the Thai investor was only on the first step of conducting research on the project and the final decision would be made after that. The coal-fired project was planned to be built in Phong Dien district, far removed from the province’s beach resort and tourism areas, according to the Thua Thien-Hue’s Planning and Investment Department.
The project, however, complied with neither the country’s power development plan nor the province’s power strategy for the 2011-2020 period, with a view towards 2030. But the province could be willing to adjust its plans if the coal-fired project was committed to using innovative technology, providing a high environmental safety level, and choosing a location far removed from its beach resort and tourism areas.
The company’s business operations are divided into two segments: coal and power. Between it and its subsidiaries, Banpu operates coal and coal-related
businesses ranging from investment, exploration, and development to production of both thermal and coking coals in Thailand, Indonesia, China, Australia, and Mongolia.
Linananda said, “While ensuring high-efficiency and environmentally-friendly technology is applied in all power plants in the pipeline, all projects in the construction phase will move forward to meet their commercial operation date targets. This is to underline the company’s commitment to creating sustainable value for shareholders and stakeholders, as a leading Asian power generating company.”
“The coal price has hit rock bottom. Some mines may encounter high production costs and shut down. We have seen an opportunity, however. We are interested in mines in the same areas as our mines in Indonesia, China, and Vietnam, where the demand for power will rise. Such mines are newly opened or still in the development process,” he said.
The company saw investment opportunities through mergers and acquisitions after the coal price bottomed out. In 2000, Banpu acquired 30 per cent of the registered capital in Amata Power (Bien Hoa) Ltd., a power production company in southern Vietnam. It also invested in a wholly owned subsidiary, Banpu Power Vietnam I.