The 36th ASEAN Ministers on Energy Meeting reinforced the region’s commitment to enhancing resilience and connectivity in the energy space. By Francis Kan
ASEAN countries will work towards developing a more resilient and innovative energy ecosystem to meet rapidly growing demand for energy in the region. This commitment, and the strategies to fulfil it, were discussed on Monday, 29 October, at the 36th ASEAN Ministers on Energy Meeting (AMEM), which was held in conjunction with Singapore International Energy Week (SIEW) for the first time.
“ASEAN’s economy is growing rapidly and is projected to be the fourth largest in the world by 2030. The increasing energy demand required to fuel this growth will lead to growing opportunities in the energy sector,” said Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry, Mr. Chan Chun Sing, the chair of 36th AMEM, at a press conference on Monday.
“These opportunities will be best seized through three strategies: investment, innovation and integration, across the value chain of energy involving production, management and consumption. Our strategies need to be supported by closer cooperation between ASEAN and our partners,” he added.
To strengthen ASEAN’s engagement with key international organisations, the region’s energy ministers were joined by International Energy Agency (IEA) Executive Director, Dr. Fatih Birol and International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) Director-General, Mr. Adnan Amin.
A number of initiatives with the two international agencies were endorsed at AMEM, including a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Energy Cooperation between ASEAN and IRENA that outlines areas of cooperation to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy in the region. Specifically, these initiatives will help ASEAN reach its goal of raising the component of renewable energy in its energy mix to 23 percent by 2025. The MOU is scheduled to be signed at SIEW on Tuesday, 31 October.
Minister Chan noted that the proposed collaboration with IRENA will provide ASEAN countries access to a global database of ideas that can help accelerate the adoption of renewables.
H.E. Dato Lim Jock Hoi, Secretary-General, ASEAN Secretariat; H.E. Chan Chun Sing, Minister for Trade and Industry, Republic of Singapore; Dr. Sanjayan Velautham, Executive Director, ASEAN Centre for Energy
The ministers also endorsed the Capacity Building Roadmap on Energy Investment and Financing, which was co-developed by the IEA and the ASEAN. The roadmap seeks to bolster ASEAN’s capabilities to attract investments and develop sustainable financing models.
Adopting common standards
Meanwhile, ASEAN has made progress towards adopting common standards that will allow companies to gain better access to markets and opportunities within the region, said Minister Chan. One example of this is the ongoing development of Green Building Codes in ASEAN Member States, which will enable the region to better realise energy savings and more effectively manage energy demand in the buildings sector.
The ministers also endorsed the recommendations of the Gas Advocacy White Paper – developed by the ASEAN Council on Petroleum (ASCOPE) – which aim to enhance liquefied natural gas (LNG) cooperation and trade in ASEAN. The White Paper outlined several recommendations to optimise the use of natural gas and LNG, as well as identify commercial opportunities in the ASEAN LNG market.
Good progress on energy cooperation
The ministers also conducted a mid-term review of the first phase of the ASEAN Plan of Action for Energy Cooperation, which spans 2016 to 2020, and concluded that the grouping was on track to meet its collective energy targets by 2020.
Minister Chan said that the various outcomes highlighted at AMEM demonstrated the commitment of all 10 ASEAN countries to deepen regional cooperation and develop mutually beneficial initiatives in the energy space.
“It is important for us to continue working closely together in order to facilitate ASEAN's energy transformation to sustain economic growth, generate greater business opportunities, and improve lives in the region. ASEAN is well positioned to achieve our collective energy goals, and Singapore is honoured to have contributed to ASEAN’s significant progress in this aspect during our Chairmanship of the ASEAN Energy Track this year,” he said.
The 15th ASEAN Plus Three Ministers on Energy Meeting and 12th East Asia Summit Energy Ministers Meeting were held later on Monday, where ASEAN ministers met with their counterparts from Australia, New Zealand, China, Korea, Russia and the United States.