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ASEAN-Bangladesh cooperation crucial for energy security

Published : Thursday, 13 June, 2024 at 12:00 AM  Count : 512

Energy cooperation between ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and Bangladesh is becoming increasingly crucial for ensuring regional energy security, promoting sustainable energy development, and fostering economic growth.

To understand the context of ASEAN-Bangladesh energy cooperation, it is important to review ASEANs progress in the energy sector. The following indicators demonstrate significant advancements: Energy Intensity (EI) reduction based on 2005 levels has reached 24.5%. Renewable energys share in ASEANs total primary energy supply (TPES) or energy mix is 14.4%, while its share in installed power capacity is 33.6%. Out of 18 planned bilateral interconnections under the ASEAN Power Grid (APG), nine are operational. There are 11 regasification terminals in five ASEAN countries, with a total regasification capacity of 48.5 million tonnes per annum (MTPA). Six countries are connected by 13 cross-border pipelines, which have a total length of 3,631 km.

Clean coal technology (supercritical and ultra-supercritical) contributes 18.9 GW to the installed power capacity, and there are 13 coal-biomass co-firing power plants with a total capacity of 7.3 GW. Additionally, 11 carbon capture and storage (CCS) facilities are under development. The overall scorecard of the APAEC Phase II: 2021-2025 implementation is 4.3 out of 5. Furthermore, 350 policymakers have been trained through regional nuclear capacity-building initiatives. These indicators reflect ASEANs commitment to reducing energy intensity, increasing renewable energy usage, and enhancing energy infrastructure, which provide a strong foundation for cooperation with Bangladesh.

This article dives into the current state of energy cooperation, highlights key agreements and projects, and explores future opportunities for collaboration.
Bangladesh, a rapidly developing nation, showcases significant diplomatic efforts in terms of energy security, reliability of supply, and sustainable development. The country relies heavily on natural gas for electricity generation and is seeking to diversify its energy mix by integrating more renewable energy sources and importing LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas).

On November 24, 2022, Bangladesh proposed importing 1.5 million tonnes of LNG from Brunei, aiming to secure a 10-15 year agreement. This long-term agreement highlights the strategic partnership between the two nations in ensuring energy security. On June 15, 2022, Indonesia shared joint venture (JV) investment proposals worth approximately $1.3 billion in Bangladeshs energy sector. This collaboration is set to bolster Bangladeshs energy infrastructure and supply. Additionally, on September 5, 2023, the foreign ministers of Bangladesh and Indonesia signed an MoU on energy sector cooperation, further solidifying their partnership.

Malaysia has been a key partner in Bangladeshs energy sector. On September 22, 2014, Bangladesh and Malaysia signed an agreement to set up a 1320 MW thermal power plant at Maheshkhali. More recently, on July 19, 2023, Bangladesh engaged in talks with a Malaysian firm to secure an annual supply of 1 million tonnes of LNG under a 15-year contract. This agreement is part of Bangladeshs broader strategy to meet its growing energy demand through diversified sources. Besides the existing deals, Bangladesh signed a new deal on June 1, 2023, with Qatar to get an additional 1.5 MTPA of LNG for the next 15 years from 2026. Another agreement was signed with Oman on June 20, 2023, to import more LNG from the Middle Eastern country. As per the new agreement, the Omani state-owned company, OQT, will supply LNG ranging from 0.25 to 1.5 MTPA to Bangladesh over 10 years from 2026. On July 13, 2021, Bangladesh and Malaysia signed another deal to cooperate on the supply of Liquefied Natural Gas.

Efforts to revive the Myanmar-Bangladesh-India (MBI) gas pipeline project have been ongoing. Initially conceived in 1997, this 900 km pipeline was designed to supply 5 billion cubic meters of gas from Myanmar to India via Bangladesh. Despite initial setbacks due to policy differences and financial constraints, recent discussions have revived hopes for this project. The MBI pipeline could significantly enhance energy security and economic development in the region. Recent reports suggest that the stalled talks on the MBI project will resume soon. The proposed project was re-examined during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modis landmark visit to Dhaka in June 2015.

ASEANs progress in renewable energy presents numerous opportunities for Bangladesh to collaborate on sustainable energy projects. Bangladesh can benefit from ASEANs expertise in increasing the share of renewable energy in the energy mix, particularly in solar and wind energy. Joint ventures and knowledge-sharing initiatives can help Bangladesh achieve its renewable energy targets and reduce its carbon footprint.

ASEANs advancements in energy infrastructure, such as regasification terminals, cross-border pipelines, and clean coal technology, offer valuable insights for Bangladesh. Collaborative projects in these areas can enhance Bangladeshs energy infrastructure, improve energy efficiency, and ensure reliable energy supplies. Additionally, partnerships in developing carbon capture and storage (CCS) facilities can contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Bangladesh can benefit from ASEANs experience in policy development and capacity building in the energy sector. Training programs, workshops, and policy exchange initiatives can help Bangladeshi policymakers and energy professionals develop the necessary skills and knowledge to implement effective energy policies and strategies. This collaboration can lead to better regulatory frameworks, improved energy governance, and enhanced institutional capacity. ASEAN countries, with their growing economies and investment capabilities, can play a crucial role in financing energy projects in Bangladesh. Joint ventures, public-private partnerships, and foreign direct investments can provide the necessary financial resources for large-scale energy projects. This collaboration can accelerate the development of energy infrastructure, promote technological innovation, and create job opportunities in Bangladesh.

Regional energy integration is a key focus for ASEAN, as evidenced by the ASEAN Power Grid (APG) and other cross-border energy projects. Bangladesh can explore opportunities to integrate with regional energy networks, facilitating the exchange of energy resources, enhancing grid stability, and ensuring energy security. Participation in regional energy initiatives can also provide access to a larger energy market and attract investments from neighboring countries.

ASEAN-Bangladesh energy cooperation holds immense potential for addressing energy challenges, promoting sustainable development, and fostering economic growth. The existing agreements and projects, along with future opportunities for collaboration, highlight the strategic importance of this partnership. By leveraging ASEANs advancements in renewable energy, energy infrastructure, policy development, and regional integration, Bangladesh can enhance its energy security, diversify its energy mix, and achieve its sustainable development goals. The future of ASEAN-Bangladesh energy cooperation looks promising, with both regions poised to benefit from mutual collaboration, shared knowledge, and joint investments. As they continue to strengthen their energy ties, ASEAN and Bangladesh can pave the way for a more secure, sustainable, and prosperous energy future.

The writer is a Senior Research Associate Research Manager at the KRF Center for Bangladesh and Global Affairs (CBGA)







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