Securing Whose Energy?

IESR and JS/APMDD held a study session on ASEAN energy cooperation during the 19th ASEAN Summit in Bali, Indonesia

(IESR, Bali) Participant from civil society organizations from Indonesia and Philippines attended two days study session on ASEAN Energy Cooperation Study Session organized by IESR and JS/APMDD on 15 and 16 November 2011, in Sanur, Bali, Indonesia. The study session was being held in parallel with the 19th ASEAN Summit in Nusa Dua, Bali.

Fig. 1. Proposed ASEAN Power Grid and Natural Gas Fields

This is the first time for civil society organizations from both countries that have been working on environmental, social justice and development issues undertake a study ASEAN energy cooperation, and assess its implementation in respective countries.

The study involved 12 participants from Indonesia and Philippines. Fabby Tumiwa from IESR became the only resource person in this study session, with reaction given by Manjette Lopez from Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC), and all participants as active discussant.

In first part of his presentation, Fabby presented the overall ASEAN energy cooperation, including context and situation of energy sector in South East Asia, while for the second part, Fabby analyzed the two flagship projects: ASEAN Power Grid and Trans-ASEAN Natural Gas Pipeline (TAGP).

In his presentation, Fabby highlight recent ASEAN energy demand and supply until 2030 based on the 3rd ASEAN Energy Outlook 2010-230 carried out by IIEJ and ASEAN Center for Energy (ACE) that indicates energy consumption in this ASEAN region will be triple in 2030 from 2005, in the average growth 4.5 percent per year under the business as usual (BaU) scenario. More than 85% of this demand will be supplied by fossil fuels (oil, natural gas, and coal).  As demand for electricity rapidly increase, coal will be the fastest annual growth than other fossil fuels. As result of this increase, CO2 emission from energy also will be triple from 283 million ton C in 2007 to 896 ton C in 2030 under BaU and 679 ton C under alternative policy scenario. The APS will increase the measure of energy efficiency and conservation to reduce the end use demand of energy in the ASEAN.

ASEAN energy cooperation does not standing alone. It is aimed to achieve energy security to support the achievement of the objective of ASEAN Economic Community, which is the creation of single basis production of goods and services, through enhancing investment and trade. In this context, secure energy supply is a key to make ASEAN more competitive to attract investment. As ASEAN connectivity become key in meeting ASEAN community 2015, energy cooperation is means to boost energy infrastructure connectivity, as well as energy market, to optimize the energy resources available in the region.

ASEAN Plan of Action on Energy Cooperation 2010-2015 is the third series of ASEAN energy cooperation since 1999. It consisted of 7 program areas, 26 strategies and 90 actions to implement in the five years.  This covers two flagship projects: ASEAN Power Grid (APG) and Trans ASEAN Natural Gas Pipeline (TAGP); clean coal, renewable energy, energy efficiency and conservation, regional power planning and civilian nuclear energy.

ASEAN cooperation of energy also involves non-South East Asia countries. For instance, the energy security agenda also involves China, Japan and South Korea, under the ASEAN + 3, and East Asian Summit that involves ASEAN plus 8 other countries. ASEAN also has significant cooperation with Asian Development Bank (ADB) that facilitated the ASEAN Energy Regulator Network, and International Energy Agency (IEA).

Fabby criticizes the ASEAN energy cooperation, as current plan heavily based on the extraction fossil fuel and promote fossil fuel utilization and consumption in the region. It creates little incentive for renewable energy and energy efficiency development. Although ASEAN already underlined the importance of renewable energy and energy efficiency, the development strategy of each member countries and investment allocation will be heavily on the fossil fuels projects.

Present energy cooperation will ensure energy supply and raw material flow to the advance economic countries in ASEAN namely Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia to support their industries. Countries in Mekong region will be force to exploit their hydropower potential to generate cheap electricity to be sold to other countries, while Indonesia is likely to supply the natural gas and goal to its neighbor, which will create excessive environmental and social impact for local communities where the extraction occur.

The development of large scale infrastructure such as power grid and natural gas could degrade social and economic sustainability by heightening the risk of human right abuses, concentrating energy resources and wealth among the rich, subjecting communities to risk of occupational hazard, exacerbating regional tension, and impoverishing the environment.

Lastly, the lack of transparency and accountability in the most ASEAN member countries in managing its natural resources and extractive industries could even create greater danger to the people in this region in the longer term. As energy resources becomes very strategic and importance, intensifying the extraction and trading of fossil fuels could generate significant revenue stream to the government. However, in absence of democratic and good governance, these revenues could be ended up in the pocket of handful politician and cronies of government, instead of government account to support development and poverty reduction of the country.  Country can be easily trapped into a resource curse, where extraction of natural resources are rampant, but the economic and social development are remains low and poverty situation does not improve.

In conclusion, ASEAN energy cooperation in current state does not promote fulfillment of the right of energy of its citizen in its member state, tend to exploit several countries with energy resources, unsustainable and promote inequality. Therefore it must invent the better cooperation in energy to create a region that pursues sustainable development and the realization of people-centered ASEAN (FT).

Bali, 17 November 2011

Further information please contact Fabby Tumiwa (

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