SINGAPORE, Oct 25 (Reuters) - Thailand expects a seven-fold increase in the amount of liquefied natural gas (LNG) it imports via long-term contracts over the next couple of decades, with local output dwindling as domestic demand is set to rise, a senior government official said.
The Southeast Asian country's LNG imports via long-term contracts will likely climb to 35 million tonnes per year (mmtpa) by 2036 from 5.2 mmtpa now, said Porrasak Ngamsompark, acting director for the LNG management bureau at the energy ministry's department of mineral fuels.
To hit that target, Thailand is planning to double its annual regasification capacity to 20 mmtpa from the current 10 mmtpa in the next 10 years, Ngamsompark said on Wednesday at Singapore International Energy Week.
"In the near future, we will (target) Thailand to be the LNG hub for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which means we will need the infrastructure," he said.
Thailand uses natural gas for nearly 70 percent of its power generation, but has become increasingly reliant on LNG imports as its domestic gas fields are being depleted.
The country, which currently has long-term contracts with Qatar, Royal Dutch Shell, BP and Petronas, is looking to broaden its sources for the super-cooled fuel.
Thailand is in talks to buy LNG through long-term contracts from Mozambique's Rovuma Area 1 offshore project, operated by Anadarko Petroleum Corp, but Ngamsompark said a decision was not expected until next year.
Plans by state firm Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) to build a 5 mmtpa floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU) in the Gulf of Thailand by 2023 have been approved, Ngamsompark added.
State-controlled PTT Pcl is still studying a proposal for a similar storage unit in Myanmar with an estimated annual capacity of 3 million tonnes, he said.
Thailand is aiming to keep 70 percent of its LNG purchases via long-term contracts, with the rest in the spot market, according to Ngamsompark.
(Reporting by Jessica Jaganathan; Editing by Joseph Radford)
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