press release Chevron showcases Social Initiatives in Songkhla, reinforcing commitment to community partnership and sustainable development

Panoramic view of Songkhla city's coastline

Songkhla province, an important port and coastal city in Thailand, is home to the second largest population and the largest economy in the southern region1. Chevron Thailand Exploration and Production, Ltd. has maintained a presence in the province since 1981, dedicated to being a trusted partner to the communities in Songkhla and contributing to the continuous development of the local economy and quality of life.

For over four decades, Chevron’s collaborations with government, educational institutions, and civil society organizations in Songkhla have yielded positive results in promoting economic developments, enhancing local communities, and improving quality of life—an achievement recognized by many organizations. For instance, in 2023, Chevron received the Royal Pin of Honor from Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn on the Thai Heritage Conservation Day for preserving the nation’s historical and cultural legacy. This recognition was a result of Chevron’s support for the exhibition “FAD 11 SONGKHLA: FINE ARTS” and the project to preserve and develop the historical site Khao Rup Chang in Songkhla, enhancing its historical value and linking it to tourism, benefiting not only the local communities but also nearby provinces.

To share its knowledge and experiences in developing sustainable projects that may be useful to the media and the public, Chevron organized a tour of the company’s social initiatives in Songkhla.

Chevron management team standing in front of a ribbed smoked sheet rubber factory

Pornsuree Konanta, Vice President, Corporate Affairs, Chevron Thailand, stated, “As an energy company and a pioneer in petroleum exploration and production in Thailand for over six decades, Chevron is committed to conducting business, while supporting the progress of communities and society sustainably. Our 4Es social initiative framework covers Environment and energy Conservation, Economic development, Education, and Employee engagement.

“Songkhla is like a second home to Chevron, with over 40 years of relationship. In implementing social initiatives, we emphasize integrated efforts through partnerships with government, educational sectors, and civil society organizations to meet the community’s needs and foster sustainable development. Majority of our projects are long-term, primarily focusing on knowledge development, creating models/learning centers, and human development. Notable projects include the ‘Lower Carbon Biogas Rubber Project,’ support for the ‘Songkhla Regional Observatory’, and the conservation of Songkhla Old Town, all of which have shown concrete success in driving sustainable development and can serve as models for other areas.”

Enhancing the capability of rubber farmers towards a low-carbon society

In Songkhla, the majority of the community works as rubber farmers. The processing of rubber into products significantly boosts the province’s economic value. However, the production of smoked rubber sheets, which uses firewood as fuel, incurs high costs, sometimes resulting in lower quality.

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Additionally, the production process releases greenhouse gases, odors, and wastewater that affect nearby communities. In 2015, Chevron, together with the Prince of Songkhla University’s Energy Systems Research Institute (PERIN), initiated a project that promotes environmentally friendly rubber smoking processes by converting wastewater into biogas. This biogas is used to smoke rubber sheets, reducing the need for firewood. Solar power generation systems are also used for production and cooperative operations. The pilot projects at Ban Sai Kao and Yung Thong Cooperatives align with the government’s goal of developing Songkhla into a high-value green agricultural city, as well as the principles of the BCG economic model for sustainable development.

Prof. Dr. Sumate Chaiprapat, PERIN Director, commented, “With Chevron’s support over the past 10 years, we have worked collaboratively with rubber farmers and the cooperatives’ committees to ensure the suitability of equipment and technology for rubber community enterprises. Each cooperative can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by up to 425 tons/year, or approximately 31%. The utilization of biogas helps reduce firewood usage, resulting in annual savings of 130,000–180,000 baht for each cooperative. Now, Yung Thong Smoked Rubber Sheet Cooperative serves as a learning center for disseminating best practices to other rubber-producing communities. We are also advancing the ‘Lower Carbon Biogas Rubber Project’ by aiding the Yung Thong cooperative in registering the ‘Carbon Footprint of Product’ for its smoked rubber sheets, making it the first rubber production enterprise in the country to achieve this certification. Currently, the cooperative is in progress to certify the Carbon Footprint for Organization and evaluate the potential for managing its carbon credits in compliance with the requirements set by Thailand Greenhouse Gas Management Organization (Public Organization), with an aim to become Thailand’s first carbon-neutral rubber cooperative.”

Interior of a latex processing plant in Songkhla

Inspiring Youth to Learn about Southern Hemisphere Astronomy

The Songkhla Regional Observatory in Commemoration of His Majesty the King’s 7th Cycle Birthday Anniversary (Songkhla Regional Observatory) is one of five regional observatories established under the royal initiative of Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, as part of a wider effort to cultivate science and technology awareness across all parts of Thailand. The observatory provides students, teachers, and the public with equitable opportunities to learn about astronomy. Located in southern Thailand at 7 degrees north latitude, it allows better study of celestial objects in the southern hemisphere compared to other regional observatories, supporting astronomy research for educational institutions domestically and internationally. It is also Thailand’s first Islamic astronomy learning center. Chevron has continuously supported the observatory’s construction and development, as well as astronomy activities since 2017, with a budget totaling over 30 million baht. It supports aims to promote STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education and lifelong learning in astronomy as well as fostering academic tourism in the south.

Chalermchon Wanthong, Regional Senior Manager of Songkhla Regional Observatory, stated, “The Songkhla Observatory is the first comprehensive astronomy learning resource in southern Thailand, providing opportunities for youth in 14 southern provinces to engage with astronomical equipment, stimulating interest in science. Astronomy, as one of the oldest sciences, serves as a foundation for rational thinking and diverse learning fields. One of the observatory’s missions is to spread astronomy-related learning opportunities for youths, students, teachers, and the public. Therefore, we have organized off-site astronomy activities, youth camps, and other events in the south, with the goal of raising awareness and interest in astronomy. Known as the ‘Two-Sea Observatory,’ this observatory offers views of both Songkhla Lake and the Gulf of Thailand, and is therefore considered to be a prominent academic tourist attraction in not only Songkhla but the whole southern Thailand.”

Regional Observatory for the Public, Songkhla

Revitalizing “Songkhla Old Town” into a World-Class Tourist Destination

“Songkhla Old Town,” a multicultural community with a rich history, reflects the diverse heritage of Buddhists, Muslims, and Chinese. To preserve this cultural legacy, Chevron and various partners are working to revitalize the old town and promote creative tourism. Chevron has supported multiple initiatives, including the construction of “Kid+Dee @ Historic Center” as a coordination hub for old-city preservation efforts, creating interpretive signs for traditional shops on Nang Ngam Road, and organizing the annual “Music and Night at the Museum” event, offering a new experience in learning Songkhla’s history at the National Museum at night. These projects support efforts to develop Songkhla into a world heritage city, as part of the province’s 20-year development plan. 

Dr. Jaray Suwannachart, a professor of the Faculty of Architecture, Rajamangala University of Technology Srivijaya, and a founding member of the Songkhla Heritage Trust commented, “Songkhla’s old town is distinguished by its rich ethnic and cultural diversity, reflected in its art, architecture, and cuisine, which serve as valuable cultural capital and wisdom for future tourism development. Through the Songkhla Heritage Trust and partnerships with 30 organizations, including Chevron, we have developed a strategic plan to elevate Songkhla’s old town to world heritage status, focusing on 3 areas through developing tourist attractions, public utilities, and academic work. If successful, this will bring opportunities and income to the community, enhancing the local economy and quality of life.”

“Chevron aims to conduct socially responsible business practices to ensure sustainability for its operations, society, and the environment. This objective is reflected in every project, not only those in Songkhla, and reinforces Chevron’s commitment to being a valuable partner to Thai society.” concluded Pornsuree Konanta.

By implementing long-term projects, fostering collaboration, and monitoring tangible results, Chevron’s 3 initiatives in Songkhla have gained acceptance and support from the community and relevant government agencies, and continue to contribute to sustainable development. For more information about Chevron’s social responsibility, visit the Chevron Thailand website.