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ASEAN to sign pact on power exchange in July, report says

May 16, 2005 - Kyodo News

(Kyodo) _ The Association of Southeast Asian Nations will sign a pact in July aimed at ensuring uninterrupted power supply throughout the region through power exchange, the New Straits Times reported Tuesday.

The daily said the grouping's 10 member countries are scheduled to sign a memorandum of understanding on the framework to develop an ASEAN power grid during the ASEAN Ministers of Energy Meeting in Vientiane, Laos, in July.

Malaysia's energy minister Lim Keng Yaik said in a speech at the 22nd Heads of ASEAN Power Utility and Authority council meeting in Sabah state that the agreement is a first step toward establishing an ASEAN framework and parameters for power exchange similar to that in Europe.

"For Malaysia, we are already connected with Thailand and Singapore. The project between Peninsular Malaysia and Sumatra has been identified as a feasible interconnection," he said.

The daily quoted Indonesia's Transmission and Distribution director Herman Darnel Ibrahim saying the power connection could be established by 2011.

The ASEAN power grid and the 4,500-kilometer-long trans-ASEAN gas pipeline project are part of the region's ambitious plan to boost energy security and linkages vital as it moves toward greater economic integration.

The Heads of ASEAN Power Utilities and Authority council was established in 1981 to study the interconnection projects.

There are some 10 other interconnection projects which would make up the ASEAN power grid but which still require feasibility studies, such as the link between southern Philippines and Sabah; Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia; and Thailand and Myanmar.

Che Khalib Mohamad Noh, chief executive of Malaysia's state-owned utility company Tenaga Nasional Bhd., said at the meeting that ASEAN has to optimize its resources in light of rising oil prices and growing demand for energy in the region.

But there are issues that need to be ironed out first.

"Issues that need to be addressed in the establishment of the power grid include cross-border rate charges as well as logistical aspects such as transporting abundant hydropower from Laos to Thailand," he was quoted as saying.

He added that funding for the project comes from the Asian Development Bank and Japan Bank for International Cooperation.

ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

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