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Southeast Asian nations ‘too reliant on gas’

The International Energy Agency has said that Southeast Asian nations rely too heavily on natural gas and must diversify their power generation to ensure long-term fuel supply

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has said that Southeast Asian nations rely too heavily on natural gas and must diversify their power generation to ensure long-term fuel supply.

Dr Twarath Sutabutr, director of the Energy Ministry's policy and strategy co-ordination office, said the agency had been advising policy planners and energy operators in the region that energy shortages could be caused by too much dependence on one fuel.

"Most fuel reserves here [Southeast Asia] are natural gas, therefore the countries here mostly rely on what they have, but it will run dry very quickly since demand is growing but few new reserves are being discovered," Dr Twarath reported an IEA representative as saying.

Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam are all heavy dependent on natural gas to fuel their electricity generation. Thailand is 67% reliant on gas and Malaysia is more than 70% dependent on the fuel.

The IEA, in collaboration with Southeast Asian countries, will hold a workshop on the joint development of fuel diversification in Bangkok next week.

Dr Twarath said participants will discuss appropriate proportions of fuel use for securing future fuel supply, an issue that follows last year's workshop on the region's oil-emergency preparedness. The workshop will also discuss nuclear power, clean-coal technology, renewable energy and demand-side power management.

"We will see what international energy policies have been developed, as well as their effects in practice, in order to adapt them to our region," he said.

The factors Asean members will consider in adjusting their fuel usage will relate to production costs, the size of reserves and different fuels' long-term carbon dioxide emissions.

On average, power in the region's 10 member states is generated 40.8% from gas, 24.9% from coal, 18.8% from hydro power and 12.3% from oil.

As well as diversifying fuel use, the workshop will consider reducing oil use and replacing it with renewable energy - which currently contributes only 0.3% to power generation but is targeted to provide 15-20%.

Author: Jo Amey