ASEAN seeks cooperation on energy
2017-10-02, Willa Wu and Dara Wang in Manila

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has called for extensive global cooperation in regional energy development, Alfonso Cusi, the Philippines’ energy secretary, said on Sept 28. 

ASEAN is willing to discuss all exploitation solutions that will benefit the region as well as the world in the fields of renewable energy and liquefied natural gas development, he said. 

Cusi told China Daily that the bloc’s member countries had agreed to draw up a memorandum of understanding in order to build a platform for continued collaboration and on how to advance renewable energy development.

He made the remarks in Manila on the second day of the 35th ASEAN Ministers on Energy Meeting (AMEM35) and associated meetings. The Philippines was the rotational host country.

As long as it leads to a win-win solution, the Philippines welcomes every kind of cooperation in gas exploration with China as well as other ASEAN member countries, Cusi said during a press conference, in reply to a question from China Daily on marine natural gas exploitation.

He added that ASEAN member states stressed the key role of natural gas in the region’s sustainable growth and the need to implement the long-term goal of an open market in the region.

The AMEM35 and associated meetings — themed One ASEAN Community Through Resilient and Sustainable Energy — were held from Sept 27 to 29. 

It is an annual gathering of energy ministers from the 10 ASEAN member countries, as well as ASEAN’s partner countries that include China, Japan and South Korea through the ASEAN+3 cooperation mechanism. 

The meetings offer a platform to share progress in the development of the region’s energy sector, as well as seek guidance, direction and inspiration in intensifying cooperation in the energy sector. 

During the meetings, energy deals were signed, studies on energy development were presented, and cooperation possibilities discussed. 

On the first day, the Energy Purchase and Wheeling Agreement (EPWA) was signed by the heads of the electric utilities of Laos, Thailand and Malaysia.

The deal is the first multilateral electricity transaction in ASEAN that aims to advance electricity trade in the ASEAN Power Grid.

During the AMEM35 opening ceremony on Sept 27, Cusi, in his keynote speech, highlighted that renewable energy as well as liquefied natural gas are two major energy supplies of the future.

The country’s energy chief noted that renewables had gradually become an indispensable energy source today, while the future relies on “sustainable, affordable and competitive” renewable energy.

He also praised China for leading the way in the renewables sector, which is growing faster than fossil fuels and nuclear, adding that ASEAN should team up with China in intensifying renewable energy development. 

Adnan Amin, director-general of the International Renewable Energy Agency, told China Daily that China, when cooperating with ASEAN on renewable energy, could take on the role of technology provider. This is because China leads in technology and innovation, he said, and due to its cutting-edge systems for transmission of renewables. 

The Philippines is the world’s second-largest producer of geothermal energy, while Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam excel in hydropower. 

In addition, Cusi pointed out that liquefied natural gas is the bridging fuel in the short to medium term before the use of renewable energy enters a mature stage. 

China and ASEAN countries have increasing demand for gas, while the United States will be transformed into a net exporter and become a disruptive factor to the market, Cusi said.

Citing estimates by the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, Cusi said ASEAN countries will be net importers of liquefied natural gas — requiring 20 million tons by 2021 and at least 45 million tons in 2030.

He urged the members of ASEAN+3 to be prepared to focus on energy security.


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