March 11, 2014 00:00
By Watcharapong Tongrung
The Energy Ministry plans to propose a new memorandum of understanding on cooperation with the International Energy Agency (IEA) for the next government to sign.
The ministry believes the MoU would be beneficial to the stability of Thailand’s long-term energy supply as Asia’s energy demand is expected to increase considerably, making imports from other regions necessary.
According to a source at the ministry, this MoU was initially scheduled to be signed late last year, but had to be postponed because of the dissolution of Parliament. The current government is in a caretaker role, thus it is necessary to wait until a new administration is formed.
In the past, Thailand was not a member of the IEA, as most are developed countries. However, the intergovernmental agency sees Thailand as an Asean hub and a major importer of energy. It has welcomed Thai representatives as observers to several of its conferences. Thailand will reap technical benefits on energy issues from the Thailand-IEA MoU, the source said.
Last October, Energy Ministry representatives observed the IEA’s “World Energy Outlook 2013” presentation, which included Southeast Asia’s future energy needs. The IEA projected that the Asean economy would triple by 2035 while the population would increase by 25 per cent, as energy demand expanded by 80 per cent. The demand for coal will increase threefold, while the proportion of coal in electricity generation will increase from the current 30 per cent to 50 per cent.
Asean will become a major importer of oil, fourth in the world behind China, India and the European Union. Oil imports are projected to rise from 1.9 million barrels a day to 5 million, posing a risk to supply stability in the future.
The IEA projected that Thailand’s energy demand would soar along with Asean’s expansion. The Energy Ministry will have the burden of finding energy sources to meet demand. It is necessary for Thailand to be more cost-efficient in the use of energy, by using more coal to avoid risk of energy shortages.
Thailand’s latest Power Development Plan is awaiting consideration once the next government is formed.