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Asean, Japan to Secure Area Supply

August 6, 2008

By Yuthana Praiwan, Bangkok Post, Thailand

Aug. 6–Southeast Asian countries and Japan are conducting a regional power development plan aimed at securing energy supply for the region in the future, according to Dr Twarath Sutabutr, director of the Energy Ministry’s Policy and Strategy Co-ordination Office.

The plan, being considered by senior energy officials from Asean and Japan, would focus on the demand and supply in Southeast Asia from this year to 2030.

The plan is scheduled to be released by the end of this year, Dr Twarath said at the 26th Asean Ministers on Energy and Associated Meeting in Bangkok yesterday.

Asean has until now used the reference data prepared by the International Energy Agency, which focuses on global demand and production as well as on China and India, but there is no specific research for Asean, he said.

According to the preliminary study, the region’s energy consumption would rise threefold in 2030 from now, in line with the growth of its gross domestic product, forecast to expand by 3.3 times then.

Oil will remain the region’s major fuel in generating electricity over the next two decades but its proportion of total fuels used in power generation will decline gradually thanks to the fast development of alternative energy such as hydropower, coal and natural gas.

“Those (alternative fuels) are our hope in tackling high global oil prices due to supply tensions,” said Dr Twarath.

Plentiful coal and natural gas resources would be the major fuels to gradually replace crude oil, while the Mekong and Salween would be the rivers where hydropower will be produced.

At the meeting, energy ministers of Asean countries and Japan’s Ministry of Economic, Trade and Industry (MITI) agreed to jointly develop technology that will improve the efficiency of energy consumption and alternative fuels.

Large buildings in Burma, Laos and Cambodia were pilot projects to which MITI had provided technological support to to improve energy efficiency.

Asean, which has become increasingly interested in the clean development mechanism programme, also asked Japan to assist members with new technology that would help lower carbon emissions.

Dr Twarath said Japan and Asean also discussed possible co-operation on strategic oil stocks to secure oil supply for the region and help battle fluctuations in oil prices and supplies.

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