SE Asia set to become net fossil fuel importer

Southeast Asia’s growth in electricity demand, at an average of 6 percent per year, has been among the fastest in the world. (Photo/ Asian Development Bank)
Updated 31 October 2019

SE Asia set to become net fossil fuel importer

  • Growing reliance on imports also raises concerns about energy security

SINGAPORE: Southeast Asia could become a net importer of fossil fuels in the next few years, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in a report.

Southeast Asia was already a net oil importer at 4 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2018, while strong growth in demand for natural gas has reduced the surplus of gas for export, the world’s energy watchdog said.

For coal, output from the region’s top producer, Indonesia, remained well above 400 million tons of coal equivalent last year but increases in domestic demand and exports to China and India could reduce its surplus, the IEA said.

“These trends point to Southeast Asia becoming a net importer of fossil fuels in the next few years,” the agency said.

The region’s overall surplus of supply over demand at 120 million tons of oil equivalent (mtoe) in 2011 had been eroded to just above 30 mtoe in 2018, it said.

Growing reliance on imports also raises concerns about energy security, the IEA said. For example, the region’s overall dependence on oil imports is forecast to exceed 80 percent in 2040, up from 65 percent today.

With no change in policy, Southeast Asia’s energy demand is expected to grow by 60 percent by 2040, accounting for 12 percent of the rise in global energy use as its economy more than doubles, the IEA said. This was slower than the region’s 80 percent growth since 2000.

Southeast Asia’s growth in electricity demand, at an average of 6 percent per year, has been among the fastest in the world, the IEA said. Still, some 45 million people there still lack access to electricity. The region is well on the way to achieving universal access to electricity by 2030, it added.

Oil demand in Southeast Asia, home to nearly 10 percent of the world’s population, would surpass 9 million bpd by 2040, up from just above 6.5 million bpd now, the IEA said.

“Oil continues to dominate road transport demand, despite an increase in consumption of biofuels,” the IEA said.

“Electrification of mobility, with the partial exception of two and three wheelers, makes only limited inroads. This pathway suggests little change in Southeast Asia from today’s congested roads and poor urban air quality.”

HIGHLIGHTS

• Renewable power in the Southeast Asia is expected to rise to 30 percent by 2040.

• The region is on way to universal access to electricity by 2030

Demand for coal is also projected to rise steadily over the coming decades, largely fuelled by new coal-fired power plants, despite headwinds facing such projects that include increasing difficulty to secure competitive financing for new facilities.

The IEA said the region’s increasing reliance on imports of natural gas made the fuel less price-competitive though it appeared to be a good fit for the fast-growing cities and lighter industries in the region.

“In our projections, it is industrial consumers rather than power plants that are the largest source of growth in gas demand,” the IEA added.

Renewable energy is set to play a larger role, but without stronger policy frameworks the share of renewables in power generation would rise only to 30 percent by 2040, from the current 24 percent, the IEA said.

Wind and solar energy are expected to grow rapidly, while hydropower and modern bioenergy — including biofuels, biomass, biogas and bioenergy derived from other waste products — would remain the mainstays of Southeast Asia’s renewables portfolio.


Alibaba confirms huge Hong Kong public listing worth at least $13bn

Updated 15 November 2019

Alibaba confirms huge Hong Kong public listing worth at least $13bn

  • Over-allocation options could take the total value to more than $13 billion, making it one of the biggest IPOs in Hong Kong for a decade
  • Alibaba Chief Executive Officer said the group wanted to participate in Hong Kong’s future

HONG KONG: Chinese technology giant Alibaba on Friday confirmed plans to list in Hong Kong in what it called a $13 billion vote of confidence in the turbulent city’s markets and a step forward in its plans to go global.
The enormous IPO, which Hong Kong had lobbied for, will come as a boost for authorities wrestling with pro-democracy protests that have tarnished the financial hub’s image for order and security and hammered its stock market.
Alibaba will offer 500 million shares at a maximum of HK$188 apiece to retail investors, the company said. The number eight is considered auspicious in China.
Over-allocation options could take the total value to more than $13 billion, making it one of the biggest IPOs in Hong Kong for a decade after insurance giant AIA raised $20.5 billion in 2010.
Alibaba had planned to list in the summer but called it off owing to the city’s long-running pro-democracy protests and the China-US trade war. The US and China are now working on sealing a partial trade deal.
Daniel Zhang, Alibaba Chief Executive Officer, said the group wanted to “contribute, in our small way, and participate in the future of Hong Kong.”
“During this time of ongoing change, we continue to believe that the future of Hong Kong remains bright,” he said.
The firm’s shares are already traded in New York. A second listing in Hong Kong is expected to curry favor with Beijing, which has sought to encourage its current and future big tech firms to list nearer to home after the loss of companies such as Baidu to Wall Street.
In the statement, Zhang said that when Alibaba went public in 2014 it “missed out on Hong Kong with regret.”
Mainland authorities have also stepped up moves to attract such listings, including launching a new technology board in Shanghai in July.
The listing comes after the city’s exchange tweaked the rules to allow double listings, while Chief Executive Carrie Lam had also been pushing Alibaba’s billionaire founder Jack Ma to sell shares in the city.
“The listing in Hong Kong will allow more of the company’s users and stakeholders in the Alibaba digital economy across Asia to invest and participate in Alibaba’s growth,” the company said.
It has long been expected to launch a multibillion-dollar stock listing in Hong Kong but appeared to postpone the offering because of political and economic turmoil.
Hong Kong’s key Hang Seng Index rose 0.48 percent in morning trading following the announcement
Chinese shoppers set new records for spending on Monday’s annual 24-hour “Singles’ Day” buying spree, despite an economic slowdown in the country and the worries over the US trade war.
It said consumers spent $38.3 billion on its platforms over that stretch, up 26 percent from the previous all-time high mark set last year.
Alibaba also said it saw record amounts of cross-border sales, underlining its plans to expand globally.
“Globalization is the future of Alibaba Group. We firmly believe the marriage of digital technology and commerce will bring about unprecedented change that will not be limited by borders,” Zhang said.