Southeast Asia likely to play increasingly significant role in the world’s energy markets

31 May 2012

Copyright: GraphicObsession

Member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are set to play an increasingly important role in global energy markets in the decades ahead, according to IEA Executive Director Maria Van der Hoeven.

Energy consumption within ASEAN countries is already approaching that of the Middle East, she said in Paris on 24 May. Speaking to Ambassadors from all ASEAN member countries, Ms. Van der Hoeven added that this level of consumption is projected to grow rapidly in the years ahead, fuelled by both rapid economic growth as well as a rising population.

In the central scenario of the IEA’s flagship publication World Energy Outlook – which takes account of broad policy commitments and plans that have been announced by countries – ASEAN primary energy demand expands by 90% between 2009 and 2035, an annual growth rate of 2.3% – almost double the 1.2% average rate in the rest of the world.  

Ms. Van der Hoeven cautioned, however, that many hurdles will need to be overcome if Southeast Asia is to secure access to the energy required to meet its growing needs at affordable prices and in a sustainable manner.

At present, she noted that the region is heavily dependent on oil imports and is set to become more so in the years ahead. She added that the region may also face natural gas supply shortages in the decades to come, and that while parts of Southeast Asia have relatively abundant renewable sources of energy, various physical and economic factors have left a significant share of it untapped.

“ASEAN countries need to plan strategically for a more balanced and diverse energy mix to address these issues and invest in alternative sources of energy,” Ms. Van der Hoeven said.

The IEA and ASEAN formally recognised their ongoing co-operation in energy-related activities through the signing of an ASEAN-IEA Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in September 2011.

“Our bilateral work is ongoing on data and statistics training, energy security, carbon capture and storage, energy efficiency, renewables and other issues,” she told the Ambassadors. “Where requested, we are helping to address specific national priorities, and I am happy to see our joint-programmes which should bring concrete results on the ground.”

Ms. Van der Hoeven concluded: “Our partnership under the MoU and bilaterally must lead to practical outcomes which benefit people directly. That is good policy, it is good politics, and it is our responsibility.”