Energy Security in the Asia-Pacific Region


CSCAP Canada, CSCAP China, and CSCAP Singapore

Introduction and significance of the study

The perpetuation of the Asia-Pacific’s tremendous economic growth is contingent primarily on the price of economic inputs, most of all energy. Asian countries are consuming increasingly vast amounts of energy every year, which, due to the region’s relative poverty in primary energy sources, is met with imported supplies. According to British Petroleum, in 2012, the Asia-Pacific region consumed 39 percent of global energy, but had less than three percent of global oil resources and eight percent of global gas resources. As a consequence, the region is rapidly diversifying its energy mix and the sources of its energy supply. 

Many fundamentally important questions arise in this context.  How exactly will the region diversify the mix of energy sources it will need to sustain its growth?  What are the dilemmas and trade-offs entailed by the movement towards one energy mix rather than the other?  How should we assess the reliability and commercial viability of new sources of energy?  What are the national and regional mechanisms which will be needed so that these issues can be resolved in an optimal fashion?  It is these questions which this proposed Study Group will consider.

Objectives of the study

This proposed CSCAP Study Group would focus on the regulatory, political and economic risks and challenges associated with diversifying the energy mix and broadening the range of energy suppliers.  Where is the region, in a word, heading in terms of the diversification of its energy mix? What promise does nuclear energy hold? How can renewable energy sources be developed given their cost relative to hydrocarbon alternatives? What will be the impact of new sources of supply amidst the changing energy landscape in North America, and the role of new sources of supply? The key goal, in this discussion, will be to consider the regulatory, safety and risk challenges associated with Asia’s emerging energy mix.

Anticipated output

We anticipate producing a memo for consideration by the ASEAN Regional Forum that would put in place a sustained mechanism of consultation and exchange dealing with:
·         Promoting awareness among policymakers of the different kind of risk associated with different energy supplies.

Outlining the sustainability of current configurations of energy supplies in relation to advances in new technologies for solar/wind/geothermal sources of energy, and the implications of these changes for environmental concerns.

·         Presenting options regarding the future of nuclear energy in the region; the sustainability of nuclear energy and its positioning in the configuration of energy sources available in the region.

How does this proposed study group differ from previous studies undertaken by CSCAP in the past?

There are a number of energy dialogues in the region. APEC regularly holds meetings of its energy ministers, and its Energy Working Group (EWG) has addressed strategic petroleum reserve coordination, sea lane security and the creation of a Pacific pipeline network. In 2007, as another example, the East Asian Summit issued its Cebu Declaration on East Asian Energy Security, which articulated broad aims for energy security based primarily on Southeast Asian infrastructures. There are a number of dialogues in the region that are preoccupied with specific aspects of energy and security including the prospects for the shale gas revolution, the emergence a regional energy infrastructure and the emergence of new sources of supply.

This proposed CSCAP Study Group would focus on the regulatory, political and economic risks and challenges associated with the changing energy landscape. As new suppliers of old energy sources emerge and as the world takes a serious look at renewable energy, there is considerable scope for debate as to the merits of each. It is these debates which the Study Group will take on.

The Study Group will continue the work of the 2006-2007 Study Group on Cooperation in Energy Security in the Asia-Pacific (which was co-Chaired by CSCAP Singapore and CSCAP-India).  The work of that previous Study Group demonstrated the utmost importance of issues of energy security in the Asia Pacific, and the need to keep regional actors always up-to-date in the study of these issues.  (Select papers from that previous Study Group were published in Energy Security: Asia Pacific Perspectives, edited by Virendra Gupta and Chong Guan Kwa (New Delhi: Manas Publications for Indian Council for World Affairs, 2010).


Start: September 2014   End: Mid-2015

A Memorandum produced by this Study Group on Energy Security in the Asia-Pacific Region was approved. Download Memorandum No. 28

Download the Co-Chairs report.