January 19, 2024
BANGKOK – UAE-based logistics giant DP World has shown interest to invest in Thailand’s southern land bridge project during a meeting between Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin and the company’s chief executive, an informed source said on Thursday.
The Thai leader met with Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, the group chairman and chief executive officer of Dubai Ports World (DP World), during the “Thailand Landbridge: Connecting Asean with the World” event held in Davos, Switzerland, on Wednesday afternoon.
“DP World clearly showed interest to invest in the land bridge project. They will come to Thailand to discuss the matter and survey the locations of the project. The [Thai] transport minister will accompany the group during the survey,” the source said.
Based in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, DP World is a global logistics provider with operations in over 69 countries across the world. Its Thai unit, DP World Thailand’s Laem Chabang International Terminal Co Ltd, is the operator of container terminals at Laem Chabang Port in Chonburi province, the country’s busiest international port.
The land bridge project involves the construction of deep-sea ports in Chumphon and Ranong provinces and railway and highway links between the two ports, connecting the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea. The mega-project is estimated to require investment of 1 trillion baht.
PM Srettha, who doubles as the finance minister, was in Davos to attend the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting 2024.
The prime minister’s adviser, Pichai Naripthaphan, said on Thursday that the land bridge project’s key selling point was to create continuous industries in the project areas, especially oil and petrochemical industries.
He said the Ministry of Energy has studied the proposed land bridge’s potential in housing an oil refinery with a capacity of 500,000-900,000 barrels per day, which would allow Thailand to earn significantly increased income from direct and related businesses.
“In addition to reducing transportation time without having to pass the Malacca Strait, the land bridge project’s selling point is continuous industries, especially oil and petrochemicals along with carbon credits and environmental protection,” Pichai said.
He also noted that DP World had worked with the government led by the now-defunct People Power Party, the ruling Pheu Thai Party’s predecessor, in studying the feasibility of a land bridge in southern Thailand.
According to a Transport Ministry report, Dubai World in 2008 signed a contract with the agency offering 200 million baht to fund a feasibility study on an “economic bridge” linking ports on the coasts of Andaman Sea and Gulf of Thailand.
Panya Chupanich, director of the Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning, said that DP World was one of the foreign companies that had worked with his agency in studying the feasibility of a land bridge in southern Thailand.
“DP World was one of the first companies to help Thailand study the land bridge project. There were also companies from China and other countries. DP World is a private business with a good understanding of land bridges,” he said.
Panya also said that DP World recently had reached out to his agency for details regarding the latest updates on the land bridge study after the government agreed to build ports in Ranong and Chumphon provinces.