Private sector wants Thailand to import Russian oil to combat high fuel prices

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Thailand should buy oil and gas from Russia and Iran to tackle rising energy prices, a representative of the private sector said on Monday.

“There is a need to look for new energy sources such as Iran or negotiate to buy cheap energy from Russia,” Kriengkrai Thiennukul, the chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) told reporters.

The FTI is one of the representatives of the private sector that will join the meeting on the energy crisis that is being arranged by the government and chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha on Monday.

Rising global energy prices had led to higher production costs and inflation in Thailand.

Kriengkrai said the situation is affecting SMEs the most and it is hampering domestic demand which was already affected by the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and high household debt.

The private sector expects the war between Russia and Ukraine to be prolonged and the government must make contingency plans for continued high fuel costs.

China is now the biggest destination for Russian oil while India is a growing market and Sri Lanka is looking to buy more.

The president of Mitsui OSK Lines, one of Asia’s biggest shipping conglomerates, told Financial Times over the weekend that Japan will have to continue to import gas from Russia because of rising energy prices back home and there is no alternative.

The FTI also asked the government to hold the ceiling of diesel price at no more than 35 baht as long as possible. However, the Oil Fuel Fund, which is being used to provide the subsidy, is now in debt worth more than 100 billion baht.

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