Thailand has halted imports of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) for the rest of 2020 as a result of declining demand during the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the Bangkok Post, the Department of Energy Business (DOEB) is taking similar measures to those seen in 2016 when oil prices fell dramatically and affected transport sector consumption.
Chief executive Nanthika Thangsupanich said Unique Gas and Petrochemicals will be permitted to continue to import as long as it is only to export the gas to neighboring nations.
Shipments will be set at 3,000 tonnes per month in order to govern this.
The decision came after LPG imports began to slow down in April, when the first real effects of the pandemic started to manifest. Indeed, the volume of LPG imports that month was 87.5 per cent down on the volume recorded in the same period last year.
However, the DOEB told the news provider it remains optimistic in the long run, with an expectation that total LPG demand for the whole of 2020 will not fall too much below last year's volume.
Typically, LPG demand increases by around seven per cent a year and usage should increase as lockdown measures ease around the world.
LPG became popular for transport and cooking after natural gas was discovered in the Gulf of Thailand.
Last year, the energy ministry said it hopes to make Thailand a regional trading hub for LPG and liquefied natural gas as part of the Optimizing LNG and LPG Trade in Asia 2019 Forum, the Nation Thailand reported.
It had been hoped that imports would cover 71 per cent of the Asian nation's natural gas and 19.5 per cent of its LPG demands by 2036, but it remains to be seen whether the pandemic will affect these figures.
Around 290 million metric tons of LPG was being produced worldwide each year in 2015.