The oil and gas regulators from South and Southeast Asia met during the India Energy Week (IEW) where discussions with industry took place on accelerating clean energy transition via interconnected gas grids.

The inaugural edition of the International Conference of Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulators was held under the aegis of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB).

The conference featured major South and Southeast Asian National Energy Regulatory Authorities from Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Thailand, as well as international industry leaders.

During the deliberations industry leaders advocated for the need for “a regional clean energy agenda between South and Southeast Asian nations via interconnected gas and electricity grids.”

Gas trade 

The issue was discussed during the meeting including enhancing energy security and at the same time accelerating transition towards cleaner energy sources such as renewable energy and gas, an official said.

It is an evolving scenario and will take time to mature. Currently, there are advanced discussions on enhancing electricity trading and feasibility studies are going on for an interconnected power grid between ASEAN, India, the UAE and Saudi Arabia, he added.

South Asia imports almost two-thirds of its energy requirements and the volatility in oil and gas prices, as has been happening since 2022, affects the countries. At present, the cross-border trade in electricity has been rising in the region, which is primarily India’s trade with Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh.

USAID’s South Asia Regional Initiative for Energy Integration (SARI/EI) in May 2021 came out with an analytical study to assess the potential of gas/ LNG for regional energy cooperation in the BBINS (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka) Region. It was conducted by Integrated Research and Action for Development (IRADe).

The study said that potential fiscal benefits for the intra-regional trade in BBINS have been estimated on the basis of the likely trade volumes for the importing and exporting countries. The trade benefits can be in excess of $1.2 billion annually in 2025 and can go up to $1.9 billion per annum in 2030 and about $3.6 billion every year by 2040.

Navigating pathways 

The conference’s overarching theme, “Navigating Pathways for Natural Gas Development”, emphasised upon natural gas’s role in driving faster and deeper emission reduction that is vital to meet climate goals of emerging and developing countries. 

PNGRB Chairman Anil Kumar Jain stressed upon the importance of regional collaboration between South and Southeast Asian countries for knowledge sharing to formulate effective regulatory frameworks for natural gas development.

The geopolitical uncertainties impacting energy supply to developing countries and the need for a united front from the global south to secure energy supply were highlighted at the forum. 

The dialogue put spotlight on India’s natural gas regulatory and infrastructure development, especially for overall infrastructure development and city gas distribution sector to provide reliable and affordable clean energy.