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PTT chief on value quest

Pailin Chuchottaworn, the new president and chief executive of PTT Plc, has vowed to steer the national oil flagship further toward advanced technology, high-value and green products.

“We will no longer stress commodity-grade production. Technology will be put into every product we sell.This will make higher selling prices and greater profit possible,” said Mr Pailin, who succeeded Prasert Bunsumpun at the helm of Thailand’s biggest company.

The former chief executive of the PTT petrochemical affiliate IRPC said the group would stress research and development for all existing and new products, and all production processes.

“As well, we will no longer make sales volume the key focus or top priority,” he said. “We are ready to put sophisticated techniques and advanced technology into [the products], as very soon it is highly likely that large petrochemical producers and refiners from the Middle East would migrate to Thailand to vie for the commodity-grade market, which we need to avoid.”

Mr Pailin says he is inspired by the motto used by the South Korean steelmaker Posco: “Resources are limited but creativity knows no limit.”

The motto reminds him that South Korea, Japan and Sweden, despite limited resources, have developed creative economies and high technology, with GDP much higher than that of Thailand where natural resources are bountiful.

“PTT’s status will change from a technology buyer to a technology seller. We will stay technology-independent, similar to the achievement of leading overseas firms such as Shell.”

One of the his top priorities is to raise the number of researchers in the group from 260 now. Five years ago, the group had only 100 researchers.

PTT has focused on R&D since 1999, led by IRPC, which has registered three patents. The group’s first patent was registered in 2001, and now it has 37.

R&D will be directed at oil and lubricants, advanced chemicals, performance boosters, catalysts, process technology and green energy.

Mr Pailin said PTT alone had set aside 900 million baht for R&D this year. Thaioil, PTT Chemicals, PTT Aromatics and Refining and IRPC are now updating their R&D plans.

He said that PTT Research and Development House, in partnership with IRPC, is researching green jet fuel using the output of oil palm plantations covering 1.25 million rai, in which the group invested a few years ago.

PTT set up PTT Green Energy two years ago for palm oil production with registered capital of US$28 million.

“Our ultimate goal is to change PTT from being a national oil company to a technology-advanced and green national oil company,” said Mr Pailin.

“We also want to change the public mindset that PTT does not belong to any particular group and that it earns too much profit, but is a national asset owned by every Thai. If the group loses, the country will be in the red as well.”

Source: Bangkok Post

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