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Regional Report: ASEAN’s energy sector

LNG Industry,

Southeast Asia cuts a wide swath across the globe in many ways: areal extent, topography, climate, resources, culture, language, wealth, government system, almost all possible yardsticks. Despite these differences, the countries are loosely affiliated in organisations such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the ASEAN Free Trade Area, or AFTA (also known as the Singapore Declaration). Southeast Asia is made up of Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Southeast Asia oil and gas resources

Southeast Asia possesses a fair amount of oil and gas resources. It is slightly more gas prone than oil prone. Coal reserves are modest, though Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand have fairly active coal industries.

Petroleum reserves and production

The region possesses only 1.2% of global oil reserves (16 billion bbls out of a global total of approximately 1333 billion bbls). Within Southeast Asia, Indonesia and Malaysia have the largest reserve base and account for 61% of regional reserves. However, Indonesia’s oil reserves have diminished greatly in relation to reserves in the rest of ASEAN.

Natural gas and LNG

The region possesses arpproximately 4% of global gas reserves (approximately 269 trillion ft3 out of a global total of 6263 trillion ft3), the majority of which (73%) are located in Indonesia and Malaysia. Southeast Asia is a bit more gas prone than oil prone, but many of larger natural gas fields are located in remote areas. Gas development and utilisation were stymied in some instances by lack of transport infrastructure. The desire to develop these resources has given birth to a major LNG industry.

Energy demand

An upsurge in economic growth and activity has been accompanied by an increase in energy consumption, sometimes an astonishing increase. Indonesia, with by far the largest population in Southeast Asia, has the largest energy market. It grew from 7.1 million t of oil equivalent in 1965 to 128.2 million t of oil equivalent in 2009. Thailand is the region’s second largest market, and it leads ASEAN in terms of the rapidity of energy demand growth. Energy use grew from just 2.5 million t of oil equivalent in 1965 to 95.1 in 2009, an average growth rate of 8.6%/y.

Refining industry

The boom in Asian demand is now famous, as is the boom in refinery construction. The most dramatic upsurge was seen in Thailand, where crude distillation capacity rose from approximately 0.2 million bpd in 1990 to 1.13 million bpd at present. Malaysian crude capacity grew from approximately 0.2 million bpd in 1990 to 0.61 million bpd currently. Singaporean crude capacity grew from 0.83 million bpd in 1990 to nearly 1.4 million bpd currently, while Indonesian capacity grew from 0.83 million bpd to 1.19 million bpd currently. Figure 11 traces the buildup of Southeast Asian refining capacity from 1992 - 2010 (capacities at the start of each year.)


Southeast Asia is emerging into a major international entity, with all 10 Southeast Asian countries now cooperating in ASEAN. The population of the 10 ASEAN members is over 575 million, creating a significant market. Southeast Asia has achieved notable growth and progress. The gap between rich and poor is a wide one, however. Southeast Asia’s prospects for economic growth and progress range from excellent to good to merely fair. The hydrocarbon industry remains a growth pole and a key contributor to government revenues, and there are plans to expand upstream and downstream sectors across the region.

Author: Nancy D. Yamaguchi. The full article can be found in the November issue of Hydrocarbon Engineering.

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