Online, 19 August 2021
As ASEAN is moving towards energy transition, it is crucial to maintain and ensure a stable and secure energy supply for the region. To enhance energy cooperation amongst ASEAN+3 in ensuring the region’s energy security, the senior officials from the ASEAN Plus Three countries gathered virtually at the 18th Energy Security Forum, under the Senior Officials Meeting on Energy Plus Three (SOME+3) Energy Policy Governing Group (EPGG) Work Programme 2021, on 19th August 2021 and hosted by Brunei Darussalam’s Ministry of Energy.
Mr Pengiran Haji Jamra Weira Pengiran Haji Petra, the Deputy Permanent Secretary and SOE Leader, Ministry of Energy, Brunei Darussalam, stated in his opening remarks, “energy security is a goal that most countries in the world is pursuing. Therefore, a policy measure is needed to ensure energy security, and opportunity like this forum today is crucial in enhancing energy resilience than can contribute to energy security.”
Energy Security on Oil and Gas
By 2025, the 6th ASEAN Energy Outlook projected that ASEAN’s oil imports will exceed exports by about 304 Mtoe to fulfil its demand, which almost doubles by 2040, to 574 Mtoe. The region is also expected to be the net importer of natural gas by 2023, as demand for natural gas will surpass local production by 2024. This poses serious energy security challenges for ASEAN considering how fossil fuel markets are volatile, and fluctuating prices could affect the affordability of fuels needed by the ASEAN economies. To mitigate these issues, various measures implemented by AMS were shared during the forum, including reducing dependency on energy imports, increasing oil stockpiling and emergency response, and boosting indigenous energy production.
Greater cooperation and initiatives are crucial to strengthen oil and gas security in the region. During the forum, various opportunities for natural gas to support the transition were identified, including the updates on the Trans-ASEAN Gas Pipeline, the deployment of Small-Scale LNG and LNG bunkering, and Korea’s initiative on Advancing Energy Safety Management in ASEAN through future policy consultation, capacity building, and policy forum.
Energy Security on Coal
Coal will continue to have a substantial share in the region’s power mix as one of the most affordable options. As most of the ASEAN’s coal fleet uses sub-critical technology, Clean Coal Technology, especially CCUS, will play a key role in facilitating sustainable and lower emission development transition.
To further optimise the role of coal in facilitating energy transition, the Forum discussed the status of several plans, namely, the launching of the ASEAN Centre of Excellence for Clean Coal Technology (ASEAN COE-CCT), the Strategic Report on New Role of Coal-Fired Power Plants in the Era of Energy Transition by ACE and Japan Coal Frontier Organization (JCOAL) as well as China and Japan’s development and deployment of advanced technologies for cleaner coal utilisation towards carbon neutrality.
Energy Security on Nuclear
Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) is considered as one of the feasible options for clean electricity generation. China and Japan have included nuclear energy as one of the essential methods to achieve carbon neutrality. China targets nuclear plants to reach 180 GW by 2035, and Japan aims 20-22% of nuclear in its energy mix by 2030.
The Forum discussed the ways to alleviate nuclear security and public acceptance concerning the deployment of NPPs. Currently, ASEAN is conducting a Civilian Nuclear Energy Public Survey. Furthermore, China and Japan will continue to support ASEAN through human resources development, capacity-building programmes and scholarship opportunities on nuclear policies, science and technologies, and public acceptance.
Opportunities for Advanced Low-Carbon Technology
The Forum also discussed the various opportunities for advanced and low-carbon technology to ensure energy security and resilience and accelerate energy transition to achieve carbon neutrality. During transition periods, different low-carbon technologies, such as Hydrogen, could play a substantial role in reducing CO2 emissions effectively. However, the current cost of Hydrogen is not economically attractive for power storage and the transport sector in ASEAN. Nevertheless, the study conducted by ACE projects that Brunei Darussalam and Indonesia could produce grey and green hydrogen at US $5/kg, respectively. International cooperation would also be the key to affordably achieving carbon neutrality, epitomised by the Brunei- Japan pilot project to bring Hydrogen processed from Brunei LNG to Tokyo Bay as a power generation fuel, making it possible the world’s first supply chain of foreign-origin Hydrogen.
As stated by Mr Zhou Sichun, the Deputy Director of the International Cooperation Department, China Renewable Energy Engineering Institute (CREEI), this Forum was a “chance to strengthen the long-term cooperation between the ASEAN+3 Countries to path our ways in pursuing carbon neutrality.” The ASEAN+3 will therefore continue information sharing and strengthen regional cooperation on energy security, enhance cooperation through knowledge sharing and technology transfer, advance technological innovation, and explore alternative and sustainable financing platforms and mechanisms.