Korn targets oil giants again ‘for profiting at the expense of public’
Kla Party leader Korn Chatikavanij has reiterated his allegations against oil companies, accusing one oil refinery of making up to 1,000 per cent profit and two oil trading firms of over 100 per cent profit while consumers suffer from high petrol prices.
Korn, a former finance minister, posted on his Facebook wall on Sunday that the performance of four oil refineries and two oil trading firms for the second quarter was “shocking” or “saddening” for consumers.
He posted that the four oil refineries — Thai Oil Plc, Esso Thailand Plc, Star Petroleum Refining Plc, and Bangchak Corporation Plc – enjoyed a year-on-year profit of 1,088.9 per cent, 867.1 per cent, 825.3 per cent and 199.0 per cent respectively.
Korn said the refineries might argue that they had low profit last year so it could not be compared to this year, so his party had checked the profits in the second quarter of the four previous years.
“We found that the sum of profits of each refinery in four years did not amount to even half of the profits the refineries enjoyed in the second quarter of this year,” Korn wrote.
The Kla leader attributed the “extraordinary increase” in profits to the high gross refining margin (GRM) of the refineries.
Korn said the high GRM had inflicted high prices on the public and other business sectors and driven the Oil Fuel Fund to indebtedness.
Korn noted that the club of oil refineries in Thailand issued a joint statement two months ago that the GRM did not automatically mean profits because the refineries had to shoulder other costs. “But I’ll say the figures tell the truth clearly,” Korn wrote.
Apart from the profits enjoyed by the refineries, two oil trading firms also reported to the Stock Exchange of Thailand high profits during the second quarter, Korn wrote.
The two firms are PTT Oil and Retail Plc, and PTG Energy Plc, which enjoyed year-on-year profits of 103.7 per cent and 20.7 per cent, respectively. In the case of PTG, the firm enjoyed 275.3 per cent profit boost compared to the first quarter, Korn pointed out.
He said the oil trading firms enjoyed high profits because they collected the “unusually high” market price of 3 baht per litre for Gasohol 95 and Gasohol 91 petrol.
Korn said despite the excessively high retail price, the Energy Ministry had not taken any action to help the affected consumers.
“The profits of the giant oil firms clearly reveal which side the government chooses to stand by. All in all, the profits were reaped from the hardship of the people,” Korn wrote.
With the figures of “unusually high profits”, Korn repeated his call for the government to slap a windfall tax on the oil refineries.
He also called on Energy Minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow to speed up measures to alleviate the grievances of the people and business sectors suffering from high oil prices.
“Or is it that you no longer care about this after you have survived the censure debate?” Korn asked.
He said the high oil prices caused by high profit taking by refineries and traders impacted the country’s high inflation and rising prices of consumers goods, which also prompted the Bank of Thailand to increase its policy rate by 25 basis points to 0.75 per cent per annum.
As a result, Korn said, the high GRM and retail prices of refineries and oil trading firms were the first time bomb that the government must defuse soon before it could trigger other economic bombs.