The 29 th ASEAN Ministers on Energy Meeting (AMEM 29) opened in Jerudong, Brunei, on Sept. 21, discussing important issues relating to policies, regulations and business opportunities in the energy sector to boost ASEAN connectivity and build the ASEAN Community in 2015.

AMEM 29, the first energy meeting since the Overall Plan on ASEAN Connectivity was adopted, drew the participation of ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan and representatives from 10 ASEAN countries and dialogue partners, and international organisations.

In his opening speech, Brunei’s Energy Minister Mohammad Yasmin Umar, the Chair of AMEM 29, affirmed that the meeting offered a “golden opportunity” for all ASEAN members, dialogue partners, international organisations and the energy business community to speed up ASEAN energy connectivity.

He stressed that ASEAN has a demand for boosting infrastructure connectivity to open up new market opportunities and strengthen energy security, as well as speed up regional connectivity projects in the energy, oil and gas sectors, creating favourable conditions for energy trade, investment and services and enhancing cooperation with partners to strongly foster “East Asian energy connectivity”.

ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan highlighted the importance of efforts by the bloc’s energy sector to develop cooperative opportunities and attract the participation of partners and the business community in implementing the Overall Plan on ASEAN Connectivity, the ASEAN Plus Three Comprehensive Strategy on Food Security and Bio-Energy Development (APTCS-FSBD) and the Strategic Plan of Action on Food and Energy Security (SPA-FES).

ASEAN energy ministers agreed on common goals for the region as they worked towards increasing the proportion of renewable energy resources and new energy technologies, to ensure ASEAN’s sustainable recovery and growth, and cope with increasing energy challenges.

They said that ASEAN should build emergency oil reserve stores to deal with possible interrupted supplies while strengthening regional cooperation in clean energy production, which contributes to global energy dialogue, and providing statistical research and analyses and necessary recommendations in order to build a coordinated, concentrated, strong, effective and strategic energy programme for ASEAN.

According to the ASEAN Council on Petroleum (ASCOPE), ASEAN is expected to emerge as a net importing region in the next five years and it requires a stronger cooperation between ASEAN member countries and their partners to facilitate oil and gas trading and marketing activities in the region.

ASCOPE also said that the region’s two leading energy connectivity projects, namely the “ASEAN Power Grid” (APG) and the “Trans-ASEAN Gas Pipeline” (TAGP), will help strengthen regional energy security.

On the sidelines of AMEM 29, ASEAN and the International Energy Agency (IEA) signed a memorandum of understanding on energy cooperation./.