Shell Company of Thailand may increase the number of 95-octane petrol pumps and start selling E20 gasohol after the abandonment of 91-octane sales. Meanwhile its new chairman is urging the government to open up more of the natural-gas business to the private sector as that fuel becomes more important for transport. Sale of 91-octane petrol will cease nationwide on January 1. Pissawan Achanapornkul, Shell's general manager for retail sales, said the company would add 95-octane pumps to cater to motorists whose vehicles cannot run on gasohol. Shell needs to retain this group of customers. Shell may also need to begin selling E20 - gasohol that is 20 per cent ethanol - as the government has been promoting eco-cars, which can run on that fuel, for the past few years. Because of the first-car tax-break programme, more E20-compatible cars are on the Kingdom's roads. Its retail price remains low at Bt34.68 per litre, making it attractive to motorists. Next year, Shell plans to increase the number of its petrol stations for 560 at present. Asada Harinsuit, Shell's new chairman in Thailand, said that from now on, the company would have three focuses. First is to bring technology to help seek energy sources. Second is to build up business partnerships in the energy industry for the country's stability. Third is to develop human resources to be ready for higher competition in the energy sector. He said three challenges existed in the energy business. First is the expected increase in the world's population, forecast to rise to 9 billion by 2050 from 7 billion at present. The increase is expected in China and India in particular. Second is higher purchasing power and, thus, more demand for energy. Third is a decline in new energy sources. "Shell will bring its technology to search for new sources of energy, both oil and natural gas. Shell will focus on sources of natural gas, which is environmentally friendly. Natural gas is expected to play a greater role in transport in the future as promoted by the government," Asada said. A floating LNG facility would allow Shell to access petroleum reserves and transform them into liquefied natural gas quickly. However, such technology requires feasibility studies and state support for the private sector to join in the natural-gas business, Asada said. Meanwhile, the company will likely join with its Thai partners for regional investment after the Asean Economic Community takes shape in 2015, he said. Asean countries are expected to see a combined rise of more than 50 per cent in energy usage in the next 10-15 years. Their electricity usage combined is anticipated to triple in the next 20 years. Thailand's electricity use is forecast to double by then. "Thailand is one of the countries that Shell sees as a priority, as all the businesses Shell invests in here are ranked in the top 10 by global Shell. Therefore, we will expand Shell's business in Thailand," Asada said. Source: The Nation.