Prospects for Thailand’s ambitious land bridge project in its southern province is looking increasingly bleak as the Energy Ministry appears to be backtracking from what was once a top priority undertaking. The ministry is working on plans for the expansion of the established oil-petrochemical complex in Rayong province’s Mab Ta Put industrial zone as an alternative to the construction of the land bridge to link its eastern and western coasts.

           

The ministry is reported to be planning to develop the third phase of Mab Ta Put at a cost of 350 billion baht after failing to attract foreign investors to back the land bridge proposal. (US$1=38 baht). The plans will soon be submitted to Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who has championed the land bridge to jumpstart economic development in the country’s impoverished south.

           

In contrast to the greenfield land bridge project, Mab Ta Put has been operating successfully for more than a decade. The proposal calls for additional investments in oil refining, petrochemicals and infrastructure to boost Thailand’s downstream energy output.