Dubai World could possibly end up investing at least Bt1 trillion in Thailand, starting with a world-scale oil refinery, PTT president Prasert Bunsumpun said yesterday.
"If Thailand can issue the regulations implemented in Singapore to create a free-trade zone where crude oil could be imported and re-exported without duties, Dubai World's investment here could rise to Bt1 trillion. This would also make Thailand a regional oil trading hub, turning the Kingdom into a major rival of Singapore," Prasert said.
Referring to the United Arab Emirates' state enterprise's Bt200 million feasibility study for the southern Land Bridge project, Prasert said Dubai World has the resources to build a refinery worth US$20 billion (Bt647 billion) to $30 billion with a capacity of 1 million barrels a day.
The refinery then would draw follow-up investment in petrochemical plants.
The land bridge would run from Pak Bara in Satun to an unidentified destination.
PTT had carried out a rough study on a refining and petrochemical complex in the South, but backed away due to the high investment required, he said.
But Dubai World would not be put off by the cost, he said. Having made its presence felt in Thailand, it could open the door to selling refined petroleum products to other Asian markets like China, Japan and South Korea.
"The presence in Thailand would give it an advantage, as Dubai World would not need to use the Strait of Malacca for oil shipment," he said.
The strait separates the Malay Peninsula on the northeast from the island of Sumatra on the southwest, and connects to the Andaman Sea, a part of the Indian Ocean, on the north, with the South China Sea on the south.
Dubai World has not approached PTT for any joint investment, he said.
"If such an offer comes, we would still need to consider it thoroughly due to the huge sums involved," he said.
Dubai World would not pose a threat to PTT Group, as it would clearly concentrate on exports, not the domestic market, he said.
"If this project takes shape, it will benefit Thailand in terms of foreign direct investment. However, to make it happen, regulations are required to facilitate the investment," he added.