Petroleum Authority of Thailand’s subsidiary PTT Philippines plans to expand its presence in the nation, primarily through a planned five-year expansion programme that is estimated to require PHP1.5bn ($34.75m) in investments.

PTT Philippines president and CEO Wisarn Chawalitanon was quoted by as saying that the firm had just received the go-ahead from its parent company in Thailand to move ahead with the expansion programme.

"We will go big in the Philippines…because we saw the opportunity. The Philippines is a net oil-importing country while in Thailand, we cannot consume all our [petroleum] products," Chawalitanon said.

"The Philippine market will be a first priority, [reflective] of the sales in the Philippines [compared to other markets]. We got the signal from our head office in Thailand to expand abroad and the Philippines is the first priority."

The latest expansion plan will see the construction of 75-80 new retail stations of PTT from 2012 to 2016.

With the new stores, the company’s retail network will grow to about 125-130 by the end of 2016, from the current station count of 50.

Chawalitanon said the plan was to allocate a budget of about PHP250-300m ($5.79-6.95m) to put up 15 stations every year from 2012 to 2016.

In 2012, PTT Philippines is likely to surpass that target with the construction of 20 new stations; some of them will be company-owned while the others may be built through franchises.

The company will be expanding primarily in Luzon, but it will also put up more stations in the Visayas, particularly in the province of Cebu.

"Our problem now is that we only have one terminal. Our concern is how to expand to south of Luzon. That’s why we are looking into the possibility of putting up additional terminals in the north and in the south so that we can expand more," Chawalitanon said.

The firm is planning to put up a terminal in San Fernando, Pampanga; one terminal is expected to cost more than PHP250m ($5.79m).