Thailand’s PTT keen to sell stake in Egypt gas pipeline business

Thailand's largest energy firm PTT PCL is keen to sell a 25 percent stake in Egyptian gas pipeline company East Mediterranean Gas (EMG), which has stopped operations in recent years, chief financial officer Wirat Uanarumit said on Thursday.

State-controlled PTT has been reviewing its investments and spending plans after a decline in oil prices since mid-2014 and losses from fuel subsidies pushed the company to its worst-ever quarterly loss in the final three months of last year.

"We are looking at an option to sell the stake. Some (investors) have approached us, but there is no progress so far," Wirat told Reuters, speaking about the EMG stake. PTT has already written off the investment in Egypt, he said.

PTT, which is also trying to sell its palm business in Indonesia, bought into EMG for $487 million in December 2007.

EMG is a company registered in Egypt that owns and operates a cross-border gas pipeline that receives Egyptian gas from an exporting terminal at Al-Arish in Egypt and transports it to a receiving terminal at Ashqelon in Israel.

EMG was the only company with the right to export gas from Egypt to Israel. But the pipeline was shut down in 2012 after months of attacks by militants in Egypt's remote Sinai Peninsula. It has since been out of commission and EMG is suing the Egyptian government for damages.

PTT also cut its five-year investment budget by 11 percent to about 290 billion baht ($8.9 billion) due to volatile oil prices, Wirat said later, speaking with reporters.

The 2015 budget will be reduced by 5-10 percent from an earlier target of 85.5 billion baht, Wirat said.

The budget cuts will be approved at a PTT board meeting on Friday, he added.

PTT, which holds stakes in five of seven oil refineries in Thailand, aims to sell a 12 percent stake in oil refiner Bangchak Petroleum in the second quarter, he said.

Bangchak runs a 120,000 barrel-per-day refinery and operates more than 1,000 service stations and a solar farm business.

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