In these times of great change and rapid modernization, global energy shortage is a threat to economic function and growth. A global quest on energy security now rests on the hands of energy experts and leaders.

Global and local energy experts gave different perspectives to address the issue on energy shortage during the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Inc. (AmCham) conference last November 4 at Makati Shangri-La.

Distinguished energy leaders such as IHS Vice Chairman, Global Energy Expert, and Pulitzer Prize Winning Author Dr. Daniel Yergin, and US Ambassador to the Philippines His Excellency Philip S. Goldberg discussed the energy issue on a global perspective, but focusing specifically on the ASEAN region.

After Dr. Yergin posed the big question, “Is energy/electricity going to be an enabler/constraint to the economic growth that this country needs?”, Shell Philippines Country Chairman Ed Chua shared the element that he thinks is a crucial factor in the Asian energy mix.

The role of gas

Although the Philippines had a 60% energy self-sufficiency rate in 2011 and is currently the 2nd largest producer of geothermal energy worldwide, the country is still highly dependent on imported oil from the Middle East for its transport sector, and imported coal primarily from Indonesia and China for its power sector.

There is an increasing demand on renewable energy sources for its lower environmental impact; however, one factor that is deterrent to the complete reliance on renewable energy is its intermittency.

“When we talk about energy, people normally discuss issues about price and access. But equally important are issues relating to supply security and on externalities like health and environment. Balancing all these issues is where we believe natural gas can play a crucial role,” said Shell Philippines Country Chairman Ed Chua.

Given the benefits from natural gas such as better air quality, low carbon emissions, and faster gas plant construction, Chua emphasizes that natural gas can be the ideal complement to renewable energy.

Chua also stressed that with smart planning, gas can serve as the backbone of cities, where energy consumption level is at high. By having gas as the backbone of cities, efficient use of energy, minimisation of air pollution and reliability improvement will pave way for the use of natural gas in transport, marine, power, and feedstock.

With the many benefits of natural gas, and its wide applications, natural gas should be given the role it deserves in the fuel mix.

“All these can only happen if government puts in place the necessary policies to stimulate investments in these infrastructures,” ended Chua.

Cooperation and innovation

Collaboration among the governments, societies, and industries is important in the exploration and production of gas to ensure energy efficiency while safeguarding the environment.

Former DOE Secretary Vince Perez also believes that “investments are needed to develop our indigenous energy sources and secure our energy needs.”

These investments in the gas value chain will help lead to further innovation in the country’s quest to energy security.