Alfonso Cusi pushes joint exploration of natural resources with ASEAN
Danessa Rivera (The Philippine Star) - September 26, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi is pushing for joint exploration of natural resources with members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to boost the region’s energy security.

Citing International Energy Agency (IEA) projections, Cusi said the region is projected to become an emerging heavyweight in global energy as it is poised to rise as the world’s fourth largest economy by 2030.

“IEA projections indicate that from our 2018 level of nearly $40 million for the period 2019-2040 we must almost double the amount of our energy investments annually to sustain the region’s energy needs,” Cusi said.

“Additionally, these upshoots in demand are driving energy import levels upwards, escalating concerns about our energy security. This, again, puts emphasis on the importance of building up energy infrastructure and resources, and strengthening energy efficiency measures even further,” he said.

Cusi said ASEAN member countries have shared borders, making it imperative to jointly explore available resources to help augment regional energy security.

“While accelerated progress in Southeast Asia may pose some challenges, ultimately, we find strength in numbers. With a united ASEAN working towards the realization of full energy connectivity and market integration, I am confident that we would attain our vision of energy security, accessibility, affordability, and sustainability for all,” he said.

Discussions on possible joint exploration of resources have already started among ASEAN members.

“It’s ongoing. A technical working group has already been formed,” Cusi said.

This follows the Philippines’ proposal to include oil exploration and development as the eighth sub-sector network in the updated ASEAN Plan of Action for energy cooperation, and for the ASEAN Council on Petroleum during the 37th ASEAN Ministers on Energy Meeting (AMEM37) earlier this month.

Cusi also called for the further strengthening of energy relations among ASEAN member-countries on a myriad of energy issues, which included, among others, innovations in renewable energy, climate change mitigation, and microgrid utilization.

Apart from conducting joint exploration with ASEAN members, the Philippines is also looking to jointly explore prospects in the West Philippine Sea with China.

Both countries are forming a framework for joint exploration in the West Philippine Sea in the spirit of cooperation and reaching a common goal of the possibility of joint exploration activities in the disputed waters.

This follows the memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by President Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping in November last year.

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