The Thailand Government's environmental policies have been established through the National Environmental Quality Act 1992 (NEQA 1992) and associated regulations and guidelines. The objective of this Act is to reform and improve the law on enhancement and conservation of national environmental quality.
A National Environment Board sets environmental quality standards and gives approval to various plans and standards proposed by other regulatory bodies or organisations. Aspects of pollution control include constructing or installing facilities for controlling and treating waste water discharge, polluted air emissions and discharge of other wastes or pollutants.
Projects or activities likely to have environmental impact are required to prepare reports on environmental assessment. The reports are referred to as Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) reports. The legal framework for EIA is set out in Part 4 in Chapter III in the National Environmental Quality Act 1992. The types and sizes of projects or activities are specified by Notification No. 3/92 published in the Government Gazette.
Upstream activities including constructing onshore and offshore pipelines are subject to a full EIA report. For seismic surveys and exploration drilling, it is usually sufficient to provide an initial environmental evaluation.
The activities identified in the Notification No. 3/92 do not directly include CO2 transport and storage activities, although it is possible that CO2 pipeline transport is included.
It is likely that CO2 transport and storage activities will need to be identified in the notification before even being considered for approval for development.
7.4.2 Regulations that might assist
Thailand's environmental policies, legislation and regulation might positively assist in facilitating CO2 transport and storage in Thailand if they include CO2 transport and storage as a prescribed activity in Notification No. 3/92.
This would allow CO2 transport and storage activities to be considered under the EIA process and potentially be approved for development. This process is vital to facilitating CO2 transport and storage. However, it would be more important to establish a legislative and regulatory framework for CO2 transport and storage activities, including titling and permitting arrangements.
According to Section 68 of the NEQA 1992, the owner or operator of a point source of air pollution has the duty to install or bring into operation facilities for air pollution control in order to reduce or eliminate pollutants which may affect air quality. This would urge companies to implement CO2 transport and storage activities if CO2 emissions from natural gas developments are deemed as emissions of polluted air described in the emission standards. The NEQA 1992 authorises Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to regulate point sources of pollution and introduce atmospheric ambient air standards.
Thailand also has in place a range of support and assistance measures for environmental management, some of which may be relevant to CO2 storage and transport activities.
Specifically, the following activities are qualify for government support and assistance -
- Installing facilities for treating polluted air or wastewater or for disposal of any other wastes including procurement of equipment, instrument tools, appliances or materials necessary for control of pollution. Companies involved in these activities can request assistance from the government service in the following matters -
- Importing necessary machinery equipment instrument tools, appliances or materials which are not available in Thailand
- Bringing foreign experts or specialists into Thailand to carry out works concerning the installation, monitoring control or operation of air pollution control systems, wastewater treatment works or waste disposal facilities.
- Income tax exemptions for work involving supervising foreign experts or specialists.
CO2 storage and transport activities are not currently eligible, but it may be possible to make a case for their inclusion.
Directly related to the section above, the major impediment is the fact that CO2 transport and storage is not a prescribed activity in the government notifications. Therefore it cannot proceed through the EIA process. This is likely to hinder CO2 transport and storage activities.
As with the section above, including CO2 transport and storage provisions in the EIA would facilitate CO2 transport and storage. However, it would be secondary to establishing a legislative and regulatory framework for CO2 transport and storage activities, including titling and permitting arrangements.
National ambient air quality standards are set out in Notification of National Environmental Board No. 28, B.E 2550 (2007). However, oil and gas exploration and production atmospheric emission standards have not been prescribed. In general industrial atmospheric emission standards, CO2 emissions are not considered as emissions of polluted air and there are no regulations directly related to their control or treatment.
The main omission relates to the omission of CO2 transport and storage as a defined activity in the government Notifications.
The treatment of CO2 transport and storage under the National Environmental Quality Act 1992 should be seen as an element of the legislative and regulatory framework. Such framework would need to be developed and implemented before any CO2 transport and storage activities could proceed.
In addition, consideration could be given to including CO2 storage and transport activities as eligible for environmental incentives.