Singapore — The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is no longer a policy tool tied to Beijing’s Belt & Road Initiative and has committed nearly half of its $6 billion loans to energy projects ranging from power plants to natural gas pipelines, Pang Yee Ean, Director General of Investment Operations at AIIB, said in an interview this week.

When the AIIB, a development bank on the lines of the Asian Development Bank and World Bank, was proposed by China several years ago, there were concerns that it could become an extension of Beijing’s foreign policy, and a banker to the country’s Belt and Road Initiative.

“We have gone beyond being funded by China to being a true multilateral bank owned by our 87 members,” Pang told S&P Global Platts at the Singapore International Energy Week. “This shows that as a bank we no longer operate as a policy bank to China but we are supporting the Belt & Road Initiative if any of its projects are aligned with our criteria.”

Pang said AIIB has a target of building a portfolio of $100 billion in infrastructure projects, and it already has over $6 billion committed, spread across 32 projects, out of which 48% is in energy, which is representative of the energy needs in Asia.

Typically energy makes up around 30%-40% of infrastructure needs in most markets, especially in Asia, he said, adding that most of its energy projects are tailored to the specific requirements of member countries.

One of AIIB’s most recent energy projects is a $600-million commitment to the Tuz Golu Gas Storage Expansion Project in Turkey, indicating that the bank has not narrowed down its geographical scope to Asia alone.

The project, with a total cost of $2.74 billion, will expand the country’s Tuz Golu Gas Storage Facility by 4.2 Bcm from 1.2 Bcm by constructing 40 underground salt caverns to help Turkey meet its strategic energy storage capacity target of 20%. Turkey is heavily dependent on energy imports, and gets 90% of its gas imports are from three countries — 58% from Russia, 17% from Iran and 14% from Azerbaijan.

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