Delegates and experts attending a leading oil and gas event of Southeast Asia on November 29 called for closer cooperation to cope with opportunities and challenges concerning the rising energy demand in the region.

The members of ASEAN comprise the world's fifth largest economy, the third largest population and the fourth largest oil importer, all due to rapid economic development in recent years.

Nguyen Quoc Thap, vice president of PetroVietnam, who is also chairman of the Vietnam ASEAN Council on Petroleum Conference and Exhibition's National Committee, said as the connectivity between ASEAN nations is being strengthened, resources are being shared, markets are being unified, creating challenges as the business environment becomes more and more competitive.

"We see the energy picture of the ASEAN countries as changing and posing challenges for the members of ASEAN council on petroleum. As the economy develops, the energy demand is rising at a high speed," Thap said.

Thap said that Indonesia and Vietnam, which had been traditionally energy exporters, now are becoming importers of energy.

Malaysia also needs more Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) for domestic consumption.

"Because of conventional resource constraints, for the energy security of ASEAN countries, we have to move to unconventional oil and gas substitutes: deep water exploration, shale gas, coalbed methane and others, and go for the international investment market," Thap said.

Mehmet Ogutcu, chairman of Global Resources Corporation in the UK, suggested that ASEAN member countries work together to form a strong group.

Energy demand is growing strongly in Asia , and by 2030, demand will go up to 70 percent, he added.

Mehmet noted that ASEAN is expected to be the fourth largest oil importer in the world.

This requires a sustainability-driven business model, and closer cooperation to cope with opportunities in the region as well as in the world.

He encouraged more innovation in technologies for efficient exploitation of current conventional resources and exploration of unconventional resources both in the region and in the international market.

Also, cooperation among ASEAN countries and with international players must be enhanced by sharing technological capabilities, experience and high-quality human resources.-VNA